Winner of the 2013 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, selected by Terrance Hayes
An unsentimental and at times disquieting first collection, the poems of
excavate self, family, race, location, sex, art, and religion to uncover the
artifacts of a succession of traumas that the speaker does not always experience
firsthand but carries with him to refashion into some new importance. This is a
book of half-states, broken affiliations, and dislocation.
The speaker leads the reader through the fragments of a flooded town that
grows increasingly elusive the more one looks for it; through a succession of
Seoul “love motels” that further displace the outsider to unclaimed margins
transformed into sites of creative invention; through “galleries” of artwork, where
movement, color, and image are renewed through ekphrasis; and through the
world of the metatextual long poem “The Cult Poem,” where good and bad moral
binaries tangle into a rat’s nest of our best and worst spiritual ambitions.
The poems and sequences of
About Crows
are marked by their artistic balance
of the sublime and the profane, of polyphony, syntactical complexity, clashing
images, cagey humor, and unsettling sincerity, all trying desperately to connect.
. . . When I tell her I’ve started to write a book “about crows,”
she says she’s not certain if there ever was a bar across the street from her
nursery school or whether watermelons were sold from a truck there
for only a dollar. Though she’s been questioned countless times, she’s still
unsure what happened before her mouth learned to stop screaming and worked
only to lick condensation from the brick walls of a padlocked root cellar.
—excerpt from “About Crows”
© The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.
“Craig Blais is a tremendous talent.
About Crows
is a tremendous debut.”
—Terrance Hayes, Felix Pollak Prize judge and National Book Award winner
Craig Blais
was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. His poems have
appeared in such literary journals as
Bellingham Review
Best New Poets
Ferry Review
The Pinch
, and
Spoon River Poetry Review
. He lives in Tal-
lahassee, Florida.
LC: 2012032680 PS
72 PP. 7 X 9
E-BOOK $12.95 ISBN 978-0-299-29193-8
The Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
Ronald Wallace, Series Editor
• Visit
“These haunting, elegant poems
are painted with smoke and the
colors of the evening sky, and I feel
as though I’m peering into rather
than merely reading them. Each
promises that something is about to
happen; the tension they create is
irresistible, and as I turn the pages,
I find myself drumming my fingers
in anticipation and thinking, ‘More,
David Kirby
O f r e l a t e d i n t e r e s t
“There is an ardent music behind Mark
Wagenaar’s poetry, which feels like the
music not just of his writing, but in an
unusual way, of his heard thought.”
—Jean Valentine, judge
Winner of the 2012 Felix Pollak Prize
in Poetry, selected by Jean Valentine
LC: 2011041956 PS 118 PP. 6 × 9
E-BOOK $9.99 ISBN 978-0-299-28813-6
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