Davenport’s Version (Portals Press, 2003)
Set in new Orleans during the tumultuous Civil War, Davenport’s Version relates the story of a Creole widow, a Confederate cavalryman, and a Union captain. This remarkable, five-part poem, narrated by Captain Davenport, draws on classic texts as it reflects on love, loss, memory, politics, peace, and the human condition.
“Davenport’s Version will be remembered when much fashionable contemporary work is forgotten. I would compare it favorable with Hart Crane’s The Bridge.” – Frederick Turner, author of Genesis and The New World.
“American poetry has suffered from poets using the lyric for tedious self-indulgence, and from a corresponding lack of formal discipline. John Gery’s Davenport’s Version is an admirable counterattack.” – Kent Gramm, author of Gettysburg: A Meditation on War and Values. Read the rest of the review at Civil War Book Review.
“The first Gothic novel appeared in 1763, when the English aristocrat and literary dilettante Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto. In that novel’s first edition, Walpole introduced one of the most venerable of fictional subterfuges, the so-called “found manuscript.” A nameless fictional “editor” reports in a prefatory essay that he has discovered a mysterious old, unattributed manuscript dating, he believes, from early Renaissance Italy and whose curious nature and sensational story has motivated him to edit and publish it. The tale, full of crumbling castles, mysterious apparitions, mistaken identities, lascivious old men, endangered young women, and heroic young men, was of course Walpole’s invention, a fact that he admitted in a new preface when the novel went into a second edition. The device has become ubiquitous in our own time, and not just in Gothic tales any more, but also in mainstream literature and, perhaps more notoriously, in journalistic phenomena like the stories attributed to “unnamed sources.”
John Gery has taken up this framing device in Davenport’s Version, a long and wonderfully engaging pseudo-historical tale set in New Orleans during the Civil War. For Gery, a widely-published poet and cultural critic, a long poem of this sort marks both a departure from and an extension of his previous work, in which the intersection of history and human affairs have figured prominently.” – Stephen C. Behrendt in Prairie Schooner 79:2.
Read an Excerpt from Davenport’s Version
- Excerpt from Davenport’s Version (Archived at ScholarWorks)