Lyrically inventive, ekphrastic poems that interrogate art, race, and humanity’s dark history.
These poems stress the weight of what it means to speak from and in an already “known” world. In this debut collection from Keith Jones, the opening poems tarry with and think alongside the paintings of Cy Twombly. If Twombly is a painter of the Middle Sea, this song series conjures the longue durée of the Middle Passage. The poems then turn to resituate a “you” and “I” in a world, our world, disfigured by false and deathly approximations of the “human.” Perched on the jagged-edge of how many known and unknown catastrophes, how do we remake, rethink, reimagine, repair in language and act our relations to one another and to the earth? In the thinking and feeling of these poems, the great recursive swirling arcs of Twombly’s painterly line recur and intersect.
Beyond the materiality of Twombly’s paint, beyond the materiality of the poem, we arrive at a profound place of thought, a kind of state, perhaps a republic of many worlds, alive to all our relations and how much they matter.
“The poetry of Keith Jones never loses velocity as a skimming gleam of consciousness just short of earth. Shortness of breath where the ladders of written words go up and down at the same time, not messages, or facts you can contradict, the errands they are on are like boomerangs of wind and echoes of elven hammers and javelins. We live in echo time.”—Fanny Howe
“In Keith Jones’ world, we can only know by feeling. Both generous and violent—as being beat, beaten, and slapped by the surrealist’s hand—the poems capture the weary, needy state of human body: what it is to have a body, to need love, to feel pain. Jones’ voice comes across, always, like an oracle’s beating heart, like a prayer whispered at the altar of the word.”—Anaïs Duplan