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.
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ON ASSIGNMENT IN UGANDA
I focus my lens on the boy’s upper lip
He has turned from the broken wall of
locked inside, charred
He holds a sprig of rosemary to
keep his lower lip from trembling,
to release a scream. Let it
FIRST SNOW IN THE GARDEN OF THE GEISHAS
Slowly, each flake discrete, a calligraph,
In this garden of the geishas, the snow
and pleasures more expensive.
In half an hour the paper lanterns will glow,
the feast begin. Now, she walks the garden,
As if to bow, she bends down
drank saki from the triple cup of love,
The dark descends,
for Dick Witte
It’s only glass
to hit me
I can’t forgive my father
doesn’t say a thing.
and hide in the shed among the tools.
and in the trunk beside his rod
with a Shakespeare reel. From his coat
How delicately, with a huge hand
All afternoon we work the trout.
and the high song, long whisper
First his, then mine, then sometimes