The Mirrormaker
Playlist by Milkweed Editions
Poet-songwriter Brian Laidlaw’s second collection The Mirrormaker overlays the boom-and-bust cycle of young love – based in part on Bob Dylan’s high-school romance with his “Girl From the North Country” – atop the boom-and-bust cycle of mining economics in Dylan’s hometown on Minnesota’s Iron Range. The book includes a companion album of original music written and performed by the author; together, these poems and songs explore the ways in which, in a certain extractive mindset, the beloved and the landscape become nothing more than mirrors in which the beholder sees himself.

“Laidlaw is a poet, a singer, and a musician of our time. He brews a discordancy into the harmony. His masterful Mirrormaker takes as part of its subject Echo, the strangely prescient name of Bob Dylan’s high school sweetheart (and also the mythological Echo, doomed to repeat only what Narcissus said as he stared into his own reflection). Laidlaw is a futuristic country poet singer in the other side of the century’s mirror, where consumption, celebritifying, and commodification rule as the earth rots from the inside out. Calling “what is killing what” and “the sick of the fields,” Laidlaw is singing the trails and singeing the words as he hears “an alternate gospel.” When he writes, “the replica me heartbreaking the replica you,” one wonders at the possibilities of love, of sincerity in simulacra. Brian Laidlaw is living proof that the bard is still with us.” – Gillian Conoley


“Brian Laidlaw reinvented the moon and he didn't even have to go to outer space to do it. He is an inner space man. A stargazer, vagabond, singer and poet cut from the American grain, dreamswept like a prairie at night and fiery as a smelting stack. His words resonate with the homespun echo of a cigarbox guitar, and report with a crack of thunder. How lucky to have this new collection of his poems.” – D. A. Powell
Poet-songwriter Brian Laidlaw’s second collection The Mirrormaker overlays the boom-and-bust cycle of young love – based in part on Bob Dylan’s high-school romance with his “Girl From the North Country” – atop the boom-and-bust cycle of mining economics in Dylan’s hometown on Minnesota’s Iron Range. The book includes a companion album of original music written and performed by the author; together, these poems and songs explore the ways in which, in a certain extractive mindset, the beloved and the landscape become nothing more than mirrors in which the beholder sees himself.

“Laidlaw is a poet, a singer, and a musician of our time. He brews a discordancy into the harmony. His masterful Mirrormaker takes as part of its subject Echo, the strangely prescient name of Bob Dylan’s high school sweetheart (and also the mythological Echo, doomed to repeat only what Narcissus said as he stared into his own reflection). Laidlaw is a futuristic country poet singer in the other side of the century’s mirror, where consumption, celebritifying, and commodification rule as the earth rots from the inside out. Calling “what is killing what” and “the sick of the fields,” Laidlaw is singing the trails and singeing the words as he hears “an alternate gospel.” When he writes, “the replica me heartbreaking the replica you,” one wonders at the possibilities of love, of sincerity in simulacra. Brian Laidlaw is living proof that the bard is still with us.” – Gillian Conoley


“Brian Laidlaw reinvented the moon and he didn't even have to go to outer space to do it. He is an inner space man. A stargazer, vagabond, singer and poet cut from the American grain, dreamswept like a prairie at night and fiery as a smelting stack. His words resonate with the homespun echo of a cigarbox guitar, and report with a crack of thunder. How lucky to have this new collection of his poems.” – D. A. Powell
1. Echo’s Ailments
Brian Laidlaw
2. Fractal
Brian Laidlaw
3. Assay
Brian Laidlaw
4. from 'Anechoic'
Brian Laidlaw
5. Returning to the Sycamore
Brian Laidlaw
6. Song
Brian Laidlaw
to call something harmless admits
a certain potential

for harm (love is not & neither
is unknowing)—

homes on dead-flats
sink into prairie sinks; gradations

from landslide to landfall

to rock-fall to rockabilly to rock-a-bye

bifurcate the county—
we watch half a mountain collapse

like a stroked face, then we

help the half that didn’t
collapse collapse
you tell me all day that body & mind are one

that slag & ore are of a piece

while everyday my shoulders attempt to crawl over my ears

they try like two dogs stalking a lamb

which is finally thought

paradise is panting

it has raspberry elbows

heaven & hell are in your mind you say

unity is abiding

fine

but if we are a completeness

then what is killing what
a child is born out of labor & into labor
like it wasn’t a fall at all
like death is a moot membrane                                       after the fashion of life


            the little chimbleysweeps
            stain your fjords dark black
            like it’s so different
                                                                         to have a carport
                                                                         to live in a carport

                                                                                                           to live in a car
                                                                                                           to die in a car

kids stuck on the tracks
                                                                           o you’re great in the ore-cart,
                                                                           you fit into anywhere

            god touches
            his thumb to his forefinger
            like a zero or an okay
                                                                                     you could fit thru there

                                                                                                           pennies on the dollar,
                                                                                                           lung capacity of an angel
//


& now it’s possible to see where man smolders & smelts

from space, targets like angels’ ears,

the oracular keen of a keen

missile’s downfall shattering the world one stone at a time

                                                                says the earth

I remember when mainstreet was contiguous & so was my family,

the streetlamps like trepanning pins,

the town hall like a spur

                                                                says the earth

in a sense all dissolution is atomic, all destruction pits itself against your body’s continuity


I could crack any day                             says the earth
I smell sulfur                                            says the earth
the sycamore is an atomic cloud but

not like that

you’re an atom cloud

everything is

everything is doing its best

the sycamore stabs into the plain & stays there like a good idea

like sunglass safety goggles,

safeties on your guns, or just holding hands

(big leaves around like taken-off

doll dresses)

it’s precautionary against dying alone

even if you wake up every morning predicting the rapture

you’ll never be right

look at the night peel back from the day

look at my love & tell me it isn’t holy
we were young then                                     the country was young

we had feral nature, territory
expansion plans                                             we were young

still treating our skulls as helmets we didn’t
know anybetter                                             shithouse earth,
                                                                          heart like a dumpster

hadn’t seen a bee or a bear in quite some time
not seeing the absent

forest for the absent trees                             guilt was a migraine
                                                                           we didn’t have

we had headshots, your dumpster heart unsure
of what it was full of

    like a daisy

I severed myself from earth
to give away to you                                          with enough fury,
                                                                            ignorance is sustainable
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