Noise and Stories
John Graves Morris
With a bow to recent masters like Justice, Wright, and even Nemerov, John Morris’s poems explore the uncertain footing of middle age. The characters we meet are clear-eyed, straight-faced, occasionally nonplussed. They’re uncertain of their allegiance to either comfort or anguish. And their ciphering of the debts and credits of their days creates little dramas we can recognize as something like our own. Cars are “rust-colored, late-modeled;” poems “twist into failing origami;” and an old high school yearbook “needs a vacation. It needs a drink.” The lines dissect moments and events as if each implication must be given its due. Sentences surprise and involve us, somehow intuiting their own inevitable ends.
Richard Terrill, author of Fakebook and
This is the new West—harsh sunlight shining onto office complexes and strip malls and—just past the purview of respectable people—onto pawn shops, Indian casinos and meth labs too. These elegiac poems describe the loneliness of eking out a decent life in an inhospitable context, keeping lassitude at bay, the depleted sense your recent last shot at joy, your grief over someone’s death by natural causes, the meted-out unhappiness that is our human portion, constitute problems too small, too merely ordinary, to matter. These poems depict transgression and desperation in local headlines but also the transgression and desperation we find as we examine our own quiet, obedient lives. Even while Noise and Stories mines this vein of mute despair, it celebrates life’s constancy, its “motion, texture, smack, & murmur.”
Debra Monroe, author of Newfangled and Shambles
John Morris is a poet of great versatility, sensitivity, and perception. He takes a moment from our lives, crystallizes it into forever. This is lovely work.
Rilla Askew, author of Fire In Beulah and Harpsong
John Graves Morris’ first collection of poems is a work of many years where music and image clock one another for all the surprise and sharp edges that poetic voice admits to–these sometimes elevated and lyric voices are both true and memorable. What a wonderful volume.
Norman Dubie, author of Ordinary
Mornings of a Coliseum and
Insomniac Liar of Topo
96 pages, $14.95
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