Richard Wilbur calls McQuilkin’s poems “pungently exact about the properties of the real world.” And David Bottoms has written that “Rennie McQuilkin is a poet with an extraordinary eye... He looks at the hard questions of the world, never flinching, and translates them with a clarity that is rare in American poetry today.” Dick Allen agrees: “He has a voice unlike that of any other contemporary poet... McQuilkin speaks from us and with us in a language so devoid of all rhetoric it is pure American: the natural man is lifted out of himself almost beyond his knowing. My response is one of pure thanks.”
Rennie McQuilkin’s poetry has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, Poetry, and The American Scholar. He is the author of nine books, two of which have won awardsthe Swallow’s Tale Poetry Prize for We All Fall Down and the Texas Review Chapbook Prize for An Astonishment and an Hissing. McQuilkin has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and for many years he directed the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, which he co-founded at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT. In 2003 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Center for the Book.
Read some sample poems from the book.
MARK’S AUTO PARTS
The crummiest clunker is worth
an alley of chassis,
All of which is very gratifying, a sign
The loosestrife will take this, frogs
After your first chemo we head for the shore
At dead low we reach the rock-cobbled mudflat
In the heat of late afternoon, we wait out
And there they are, as ever, with neon boards,
SISTER MARIE ANGELICA PLAYS BADMINTON
with Sister Marie Modeste most afternoons.
Except for the whisper of wings
On all sides of the court
Marie Angelica would say,
when she fades for a long one
she is lost, a long-legged girl again
Her nerve ends quick as a shiver of poplar,
and burst, all colors one. That white.
of the racket she sights it in,
expensively, their halyards chiming,
it might be ivory queens, bishops,
across the mottled bay.
and this for heraldry—
the sky. How hard to believe
the dive, direct hit of the hawk
that innerspring of rabbit rib,
As for the yachts, the swift
must be taken, bone and gut,
LORD GOD BIRD
When I heard the news, mother, I thought to
no longer extinct, forgetting, as ever, that you are.
that feasted on Death itself,
still flashing red, white and black