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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: House with a Dark Sky Roof

House with a Dark Sky Roof, by T. Zachary Cotler. Salt Publishing, London, 2011. Review by Debrah Lechner.

In this important first book of poetry, T. Zachary Colter captures our unpredictable and unfathomably strange world in moments that are singlar, simple, both exotic and commonplace. Colter sustains an acute awareness of each part of the Earth his imagination inhabits, and his imagination roams widely, from the silos of Nebraska to ancient Greece. His voice varies from the abstract to the conversational; it is always lyrical. There is use of musical forms and a variety of languages. The execution is intellectual, but also accessible. Political and international issues are themes, but the personal is never lost for long.

From “We Had a Word for the Two of Us”:

Wire fence marked my land’s edge written in my father’s will.

I traced the wire to an unshorn ram, entangled, hindparts bloody, and the

ram bucked feebly and dirged, too much for wire wounds only, a

bullet maybe, a coyote.

In my good life, some things came without deliberation — throw a pebble,

love Maria, orange the house and rope, reap milkweed, manumit

this ram.

The scythe, inherited with the land, I gripped the shaft and horizontal

handle, held the tool high at a shaking angle, poised — an iron beak,

an angel can go crazy — swung.

One foot on the neck, I ripped the tool from a bone.

Thaw pain came with the heat, so I put both feet in the blood.

T. Zachary Cotler’s poetry can be found in numerous literary journals and has been recognized through many awards and fellowships, among them the Amy Clampitt Residency Award and fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Djerassi Foundation.

The book will be forthcoming in both hardback and paperback shortly.

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