Winner of the 2015 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
In Reveille a man suffers fits of supernatural coughing, flytraps attack a child, a moray haunts a waterbed, and the prodigal son stalks his local brothel in a pair of lionhide pajamas. These poems survey their host of holy objects and exotic creatures the way one might the emblems in a dream: curious of their meanings but reluctant to interpret them and simplify their mystery. Theologically playful, rhetorically sophisticated, and formally ambitious, Reveille is rooted in awe and driven by the impulse to praise. At heart, these are love poems, though their loves are varied and complicated by terrible threats: that we will cry out and not be answered, fall asleep and never wake. Against such jeopardy Reveille fixes our attention on a lightening horizon.
“Organized more in symphonic movements than narrative arc, George David Clark’s debut collection Reveille works a kind of hypnosis. In four sections with a reveille to begin each, a landscape—make that soundscape—amasses an impressive array of subjects and tones. . . . And so, if the book is itself a wake-up call, each poem sounding a unique and sonorous note that pulls us deep into the dreamlike world of the poet, when we put the book down we wonder at a world made more vibrant and urgent—even if we also yearn to slip back to something elusive once again.”
—Christopher McCurry, Rain Taxi, Fall 2015
“Here is a sensuous book, a love parade, a blitz of sugar where everything is ‘swaddled in sun-lust.’ Here is a pair of ‘jaguar pajamas.’ Reveille seeks to wake us to the new world we find every morning—familiar somehow, but strange enough to fear. These poems point us to delight. To joy. They seek to guide us ‘like a compass locked on heaven.’ I trust this book. Clark is a poet of exquisite powers and Reveille is a pleasure and a pleasure and a pleasure.”
“Wallace Stevens called a poem the ‘cry of its occasion.’ Through all manner of ‘throats’—windpipes, wells, chimneys, kazoos, whistles—the poems in Reveille offer a lucid dreamer’s call to the altar of each moment. These poems, at once unabashedly, tenderly secular and lavishly sacred, create out of all manner of cris de coeur (echoes, rumors, stutters) a sensuous, ecstatic, formally brilliant music.”
—Lisa Russ Spaar
“Reveille is suffused with a fascinating postmodern sense of the sacred. In its elegant hesitations and lovely vacillations, this book stands on the side of revelation and reverence.”
Adopted at: State University of New York, Fredonia
Course: ENGL 460, Advanced Poetry Writing
Course Description: Intensive critical discussion of student work. Readings in contemporary poetry.
Professor: Sarah Green
Term: Spring 2018