Cruel Summer: Poets Randall Mann, Miguel Murphy, and Aaron Smith
For years, Randall Mann has been hailed as one of contemporary American poetry's most daring formalists, expertly using craft as a way of exploring racy subjects with trenchant wit and aplomb. His new collection, Proprietary, depicts with the insights of a longtime insider the culture of corporate America, in which he's worked for years, intertwined with some of his tried-and-true subjects, including gay life in the wildly disparate worlds of San Francisco and northern Florida.
"The dark eroticism that inhabits Miguel Murphy's DETAINEE becomes eerily familiar as each startling poem explores the urges, the instincts, and the passions that bare their teeth--'what is love without arrows?' Human nature's private hues are visceral and violent, sensual and predatory, and Murphy's provocative verse dares to imagine them undisguised, as if to tell us, "You don't even know / the beast who you are.'"--Rigoberto Gonzalez
In his third poetry collection, Primer, Aaron Smith grapples with the ugly realities of the private self, in which desire feels more like a trap than fulfillment. What is the face we prepare in our public lives to distract others from our private grief? Smith's poetry explores that inexplicable tension between what we say and how we actually feel, exposing the complications of intimacy and the limitations of language to bridge those distances between friends, family members, and lovers. What we deny, in the end, may be just what we actually survive. Mortality in Smith's work remains the uncomfortable foundation at the center of our relationship with others, to faith, to art, to love as we grow older, and ultimately, to our own sense of who we are in our bodies in the world. The struggle of this book, finally, is in naming whether just what we say we want is enough to satisfy our primal needs, or are the choices we make to stay alive the same choices we make to help us, in so many small ways, to die.