Winner, 2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
Randall Jarrell said that when you read a poem “you are entering a foreign country whose laws and language and life are a kind of translation of your own.” In [explicit lyrics], we are visitors to a world that is familiar as if the poems are occurring in our town, on the streets where we live. But the laws have changed, and what is normally important is no longer relevant. What was meaningless is now everything.
As the title indicates, these poems are lyrics—musings on the small decisions required by existence in the modern world. They contain the grand themes of art—life, love, and mortality—but not where you expect. The smallest and most mundane objects become the catalyst for reevaluating our roles in society and the world. This is not poetry as art. This is life as art, from a country where poetry is the only language.
Listen to “How to Clean an Oil-Slicked Penguin” at The Writer’s Almanac.
“Andrew Gent’s [explicit lyrics] is a fascinating collection of poems that slip through their own cracks and seem to vanish before the reader’s eyes. [Gent’s] influences are a matter of guesswork, but I’d say he has learned some of his admirable tricks from Yannis Ritsos and some of the New York School. Surprises lurk on every page.”
“These quiet, but intense, short lyric poems embody some of the most pleasurable metaphors I’ve read in a long time. Andrew Gent’s poems think in poetry. A brilliant collection.”
“Andrew Gent’s sardonic wit and wry observations find a surprising, if fleeting, comfort and solace in the mundane, often tough details of day-to-day life. For, like life, [explicit lyrics] is teeming with humorously distressing moments, and yet the poet’s meditations help us see that it is precisely the difficulty and dilemma that provide insight to the truth of the situation.”