With Compass, a debut collection awarded the 2013 T.S. Eliot Prize from Truman State University Press, Luc Phinney has burst onto and worked his way into the upper echelon of contemporary American poetry.
Would you like to understand Bob Dylan? Get in line. You can, however, understand, and appreciate more through his view of them, some of the writers who've had an influence on Dylan as an artist. Edgar Allan Poe, the fender-bender poet is a writer who matters to Dylan, and has for a long time.
Have they felt the hunger too? / it's an old emptiness under the rug, / the rumbling of dust / facing off to brawl for the blackened land. / Have they seen the faces with their hanging skin,
the yellowed teeth, the sun-bleached earth?
Who was that girl we were with anyway, she was weird. I always say, you know how I always say that people with multicolor hair are trying to make statements with words they were too dumb to learn in school -- that girl.
The critic writing a book of poetry faces peculiar challenges. Can she silence her internal censor enough to produce breakthrough work? Can she both savor and sever her allegiances as the need dictates?
What is found there, in the realm of poetry, is what is so often passed over in daily life: the miraculous, the unexpected, the undreamt of. Poems are necessary because they honor the unknown, both in us and in the world.
What I tell my students is this: Don't read any living American writers. If you're going to read any American writers at all, only read dead ones. That way you can be sure you're not wasting your time.