Finalist, 2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
Out of the contradiction, paradox, loss, and strange beauty of contemporary warfare, Brock Jones brings us Cenotaph, a collection of poems that have as their genesis Jones’s deployments to Iraq in 2002 and 2005, when he was in the US Army.
These are war poems, but also love poems and hate poems, poems about dying and living, poems about hope and hopelessness. These are poems that beautifully reflect Jones’s resignation to and rejection of the impossibility of saying anything definitive or honest about war.
These are poems that strive to do what poet Bruce Weigl described as the poet’s job: to find “some kind of miraculous way th at if you work hard enough to get the words right, that which you call horrific and wrong is defeated.”
Cenotaph is a poet doing the poet’s work: trying, hoping to get the words right.
Brock Jones was born and raised in Utah. He served three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan for the US Army. His poetry has appeared in the Iowa Review, Lunch Ticket, Ninth Letter, Sugar House Review, and other journals. He is currently pursuing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah.
“Living in a country that appears to be continually involved in war on many fronts, readers will find in Brock Jones’s Cenotaph a new way of thinking and feeling about the realities of combat. It is difficult to write war poetry because the subjects are pre-loaded with emotion, but Jones more than manages to render precisely the mess of war with tenderness and insight.”
“In Cenotaph, images—blood, crushed glass, hands, the clarity of stars—are seen, turned, and seen again, they are spoken of, then re-spoken, as if this speaking might save something of a life, which it does, which it doesn’t. Cenotaph sounds and resounds, struck through with brutal sunlight, and loving sunlight.”
—Kate Northrop, author of Things Are Disappearing Here and Clean