In The Surface of the Lit World, Shane Seely draws on a wide range of sources -- from personal memory to biblical narrative -- to explore the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, the ways in which we make meaning of our lives. Seely delves into the ways in which family and environment shape us. Poems ranging from terse, meditative lyrics to more direct narratives examine the relationship between what lies visible on the lit surface and what lies just beneath.In addition to first-person autobiographical narratives, there are ekphrastic poems; poems that explore narratives from mythology and religion; and poems based on news reports, radio stories, and audio recordings. Regardless of the approach, the central questions are the same: How do we sense the world we live in? What do the institutions to which we turn for meaning -- family, religion, art, literature, science -- offer us, and in what ways do they fail us? The answers may depend on where we dare to look.