Have at You Now!

haveatyounow2  Have at You Now! (CW Books, 2014)

“Where is the next great fear?/When is the next bright city?” asks New Orleans poet John Gery in his new book of sad poems, brilliant and brave, international in scope, political in vision, ironic and formal in execution, timeless as art. Bravo!” —Hilda Raz, author of All Odd and Splendid and Trans; co-author with Aaron Raz Link of What Becomes You

“The poems in John Gery’s new collection Have at You Now! are divided into sections, each headed by a phrase from one of Prince Hamlet’s soliloquies. One phrase though is not used, but all the time silently summonsed—“The time is out of joint”… Whether reporting from war-torn Belgrade, or from New Orleans, devastated by natural catastrophe, or recoiling at the repercussions of U.S. foreign policy, Gery’s moral outrage is continually leavened by his rigorous self-questioning, which gives so many of the poems here their sinewy argumentative feel, brilliantly maintained over long periods by a supple syntax answering each swerve of the thought. Seamed with literary allusion and “storied association,” Gery is nonetheless not a “literary” poet in any nostalgic or indulgent sense, his burdened people and his ravaged places are recognizably of the present moment. A long set-piece response to Whitman, “Appeasement,” is countered by rueful, oblique poems, an address to the birds of the dawn chorus, or a fine homage to Philip Larkin—pained, introverted, depressive, and wickedly funny, the opposite of Whitman… I am impressed by the intelligence, the range, the metaphysical wit of these impassioned poems, in which the poet himself remains perpetually vigilant and self-vigilant, not only in political pieces, but even in the splendid poems of erotic imagining.” —Stephen Romer, author of Yellow Studio (shortlisted for the Great Britain’s T.S. Eliot Prize) and Tribute

“The poems in John Gery’s Have at You Now! are acted upon with the same verve and wit and parry and heart as that scene from Hamlet from which the title is taken. These are the poems of a huge imagination and a huge intellect whose observations are at once as capable of being as fully engaged in the philosophical as in the familial. John Gery is a powerful traveler poet who counters experience with thought, form with idea, technique with delivery. Gery is one of the best poets writing today and I go to him repeatedly for guidance and direction. Have at You Now! is nothing short of a master class in how to make poems that matter.” —Darrell Bourque, author of Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie and In Ordinary Light: New and Selected Poems; Poet Laureate of Louisiana, 2007-11

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