Of this book, the poet Linda Gregerson has written, “Sex is in here. Mortality too, with all the incremental wounds to self-love and to dignity that sex and mortality entail. And motherhood, square root of all the rest, is here, so stripped of every piety it steams. And spooling through this gorgeous, brassy brouhaha, the freshest poetic line that America has produced in thirty years.
I don’t know where she got it except from the gods and from plenty of god-inspired hard work, but Adrian Blevins’ perfect gift for timing is plain magic on the page. [She] has harnessed the vernacular sentence—the one great underused resource in our national repository—and put it through paces that make the language young again. Edgy, double-timing, favoring the feint and swerve, she plays the momentums of slang and syntax, run-on and compression for all they’re worth. And in expert hands like these, they’re worth nearly everything: these poems remind us how smart the language can be on our behalf. We’ve needed this book; it comes not a minute too soon. Blevins’ spirited demotic is a thinking-machine.”
Joanie Mackowski’s debut collection of poetry is meditative, vivid, sometimes weird. Turning an idiosyncratic eye to the inhabitants of zoos and fish tanks, cafes and cemeteries, she illuminates details that make the familiar seem strange. Mackowski’s practical metaphysics and desperate wit puzzle the boundary between essence and ornament, revelation and disguise, reason and the loss of it.
Marvin’s poems are jaunty and fierce, witty and intense; she reads like a formalist who has thoroughly learned the pleasures and gains of abandon. It is her excursions into wild image and passionate song that win the reader’s heart. The heart is central in World’s Tallest Disaster, which is essentially a book of love poems-love lost and found, love requited, love abandoned and betrayed.
Jennifer Clarvoe’s Invisible Tender is the first winner of the annual Poets Out Loud Prize for a book of poetry published each year by Fordham University Press in coordination with Fordham’s Poets Out Loud program. Poet J.D. McClatchy, the judge for the 1999 Prize, chose Invisible Tender from among nearly 500 manuscripts entered by poets from around the world. His introduction is included in the volume.
The poems collected in Invisible Tender chart the terrains of childhood recollection and adult loss, of meditation and celebration. Intensely lyrical, both employing and altering traditional poetic meters and forms, Clarvoe’s poems are rich in philosophical reflection in subjects ranging from art and, popular culture to the elusive languages of the natural world.
The poems in Terrance Hayes’s book, Muscular Music, are atypical of most writers’ first books of poetry. One cannot categorize these poems simply as confessional, narrative, or lyrical. They are all these things at once. They move beyond usual explorations of childhood or family to blend themes and influences that range from Neruda to Coltrane, Fat Albert to Orpheus, John Shaft to Gershwin.
This book gives us an almost Whitmanesque account of an America, and an African American, replete with grace and imperfection. Moreover, it gives us a voice that does not sacrifice truth for music or music for accessibility. At the end of a poem that includes Bill Strayhorn, Andrew Carnegie, and Dante, Hayes says, “I know one of the rings of hell is reserved for men who refuse to weep. So I let it come. And it does not move from me.” These lines reflect what is always at the core of Hayes’s poetry: a faithfulness, not to traditional forms or themes, but to heart and honesty. It is a core bounded by and cradled by a passion for the music in all things.
Charles Harper Webb worked for 15 years as a professional rock singer and guitarist and is currently a licensed psychotherapist and English professor. His poems have appeared in such prestigious review publications as American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Paris Review, and others. Called quirky and a wise-acre, his withering wit is sure to be appreciated even by those who seldom read poetry.
In poems that are at once colloquial and elegant, Perillo strives to bridge the gap between the exuberant voice of the streets and the rarefied voice of literary tradition. Using the long lines and narrative style that have been identified with some of the finest male poets of our times, Perillo tells the stories of female experience with a grim eye for the comic and an ear turned to language’s highest pitch.
Barbara Hamby makes her poems out of jokes, Italian phrases, quotes from saints and philosophers, references to meals eaten and wines drunk.
In a fluid, compelling voice, she sets a stage, peoples it with real and imagined characters, spins them into dizzying motion, and then makes everything disappear as with a wave of a conjurer’s wand, leaving the reader to wonder, “Did that happen, or did I dream it?”
One leaves her poetry the way one leaves a dark theater on a July afternoon, convinced that the ordinary passions really won’t do—they need to be larger, as large as they are in these poems.
“Richard Burton said his father was famous as a miner because he could see the character of the coal. He would look at the face a bit, then hit it hard in the right spot, and tons of coal would fall down. I don’t know if the story is true, but I know it’s true of these poems about that war.” —Jack Gilbert
“These are trenchant, wrenching poems. With artistry and honesty they perform an inquest into war and its corrosive after effects.” —James Tate
“Doug Anderson is one of the bravest poets I know, utterly uncompromising. His language brims with compassion, rage, tenderness and pain. The Vietnam war is his primary subject, rendered here with a startling clarity of image and understanding, a wrenching intimacy born of experience. Anderson is cursed and blessed with memory, and his considerable poetic gift assures that…[more]
From the turbulent landscape of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the promise of that era and America’s loss of innocence, to a world where barbeque can be Fed-Exed across the country through a simple toll-free request, Bowman’s first collection of poetry celebrates community and the beauty and miracles of everyday life.