"In a letter Tolstoy wrote late in life to his wife, he laughs at his past naïve and foolish belief that he could easily set up an 'honest little world and lead a peaceful, quiet, faultless life beyond reproach.' He knows, finally, that to live an honest life, he must 'struggle, stray, do battle, make mistakes, begin, give up, start over, quit again, fight and love without end.' This kind of honesty lies at the heart of the Psalms and at the heart of Opening King David. As Davis well knows, 'We test positive for impurity.' These are poems that refuse 'to bypass our humanity' as they seek to find some relief for all that 'drains the soul of [its] will to persevere.' And while they are meditative responses to the Psalms in the tradition of the lectio divina, that fact does not capture the ways his poems zip from one dimension of our experience to another, combining a street smart, popular culture patter with that fundamental Tolstoyan question, How, then, shall we live? I admire particularly Davis' casual humor, his reverent irreverence, his self-effacing grace, and the patient way he allows small things to yield their metaphysical correspondences. And I admire his righteous anger, his biblical sense of what is just and unjust, and the way his poems live so firmly rooted in the here and now without ever ignoring those realities that remain outside our words." - Robert Cording
"Brad Davis writes the kind of poem I value most: one that is spoken straight from an open, compassionate heart and shot through with pure intelligence, acerbic wit, and self-displacement. His poems are infused with the transfiguring love he experiences for 'whoever it may be who holds/all this in brilliant fullness.' As I read the poems gathered in Opening King David, I saw that most-privileged of poetic purposes fulfilled: the transmission of deep instruction on how to live with, and bear witness to, all the contraries and complexities of mortal existence. After nearly four decades of reading and studying poetry, I've found precious few contemporary collections that give as much as these poems give." - Gray Jacobik
"In an era when subject matter is trivialized by obscurantists and/or trendy post-moderns, what a balm it is to encounter this collection of meditations. Reading Brad Davis' Opening King David, I feel, as the Psalmist himself has it, transported from the Pit onto a wide place. Like the Psalter itself, this book engages everything that matters in our human existence and manifests every mood in response to those matters, from self-anger to anger period to very exultation. It is the last of these, the exultation, that fills me when I see so fine an effort in print." - Sydney Lea
Brad Davis is from San Diego, California. He has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught at The Stony Brook School (NY), Eastern Connecticut State University, the College of the Holy Cross (MA), and Pomfret School (CT) where he was the founding editor of Broken Bridge Review and the Broken Bridge Folio Series. His own poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, DoubleTake, Image, Michigan Quarterly Review, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Review, Puerto del Sol, Ascent, and other journals. In 1995, a poem of his won an AWP Intro Journal Award; in 2005, his chapbook Short List of Wonders won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize (selected by Dick Allen); and in 2009, a poem of his won the IAM (International Arts Movement) Poetry Award (selected by Brett Lott). Brad is married to Deb; they have a son John who lives with his wife Mariko in Brooklyn (NY).
Click here to read a major review of all four books in the Opening King David series, published in the journal Christianity & Literature, Summer 2009.
Click here to read some sample poems.
For other books in the Opening King David series, see the Antrim House catalog.
I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
AMONG LUMINOUS THINGS
In this ocean of ordinary light,
or parrot fish or moray, we all do
a whole we believe by faith, wrestling
I will never regard as wise the fool
the voice within, small and still, inspiring
all this in brilliant fullness. I say
for if this is not the deeper reason
He brought me out into a spacious place.
SETH’S POND, WEST TISBURY
All things hold together.
Two lady’s-slippers up along the path,
still hanging in a brilliant, mid-spring sky,
thank you. I choose to believe
with presence. Yet might the pessimist be
With terror in the air, the NBA
e-mails to clear by Monday, what is true?
A tall reed gives slightly in the cool breeze,
The God of glory thunders.
NEIGHBOR AS THEOLOGIAN
How can she talk about a “word from God”?
A snake or the shrinking odds of her spouse
As though God were an actual person,
Yet this is how she talks, the way I talk
hear too much or too often, who’s only
my sin were envy, would I begrudge her
I long for what she has, embarrassed, pained
which, she has told me, is wholly present
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