In American Chestnut, his latest volume of poems, John Bargowski has moved on from where he was a decade ago in Driving West on the Pulaski Skyway. This time, he’s pushed out from those powerful cityscapes he gave us then to include a whole slice of rural life, returning to the farmscapes of his grandfather’s world. There’s still that familiar elegiac strain in his work, this time linked to the lost world of American chestnuts, where only the stubborn roots of the exposed trunk remain, buried under the butchered remains of cattle and the raucous cry of crows. And yet what incredible vitality and wit one finds in the images and music this New Jersey poet—like William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg and Robert Pinsky, among others—has rendered in the idiom of the modern post-impressionist he is: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, a reincarnation of Emily Dickinson and her Post–Modern-Neo-Punk-Ska Band Playing for Change in Terminal C of the Staten Island Ferry, or that terrifying music his four-year-old daughter hears at the entrance to the Shark Tunnel at Adventure Aquarium, Camden. And so much more!
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Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press