Finalist, 2020 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
Like nesting dolls, the poems in I Was Waiting to See What You Would Do First contain scenes within scenes, inviting the reader over and over again to sharpen focus on minute details that, though small, reveal much about human perception and imagination.
Angie Mazakis handles these layers of revelation with great tenderness. Her poems wander in the way that a curious mind wanders, so that even though they often end very far from where they started, they are anchored in the familiar, referring to experiences we all share: a moment of distraction in a coffee shop imagining a conversation with someone across the room, or a narrative built around the expressions of the cartoon people on the airplane seatback safety guide.
I Was Waiting to See What You Would Do First is a testament to the notion that whether through a cosmic or microscopic lens, “You just see one moment; you just see now.”
Supported by the Miller and Lucinda Williams Poetry Fund.
“There are no apparent limits to the imaginative reach of Angie Mazakis.”
“Human relationships are riddled with nuances. Mostly we drift along sensing that we’ve missed or misinterpreted some of the signals coming from the eyes and voices of others. Angie Mazakis’s poetry is distinguished by her fascinated versatility in pondering such signals. She does this with a melancholy comic verve in poems like ‘Chance’ and ‘Index of Continuity Errors’ and ‘Ben’s Face is Saying Something He Doesn’t Want It to Say.’ Her alertness to the complexity of interpersonal tensions gives exciting life to I Was Waiting to See What You Would Do First—beginning with the book’s funny and touching title. Readers will find not only insights but solace in Mazakis’s wary but brave meditations on human connection.”
—Mark Halliday, author of Losers, Dream On
“Reading Angie Mazakis’s tender debut collection, I can’t help but feel these poems originate from a place poems rarely do, a nucleic heart held together by an inimitable imagination and unabashed honesty. We truly are in the best of hands, too, guided by a speaker—the more curious voice inside the head of the voice inside your head—who wants only for us to understand them a little better. To come a little closer. And that’s the real triumph of this book: how Mazakis approaches each moment in this life with fierce generosity, weaving entire worlds of people and possibilities into them so that we might emerge on the other side with a more empathetic love for others and ourselves. This book is here for us. This poet, for our wholeness.”
—Peter Twal, author of Our Earliest Tattoos