by Bill Van Every
There’s a directness here which comes straight from the unmediated gut, and there’s a spiritual ferocity, too, which cuts the psyche open and exposes the wild, aching human heart. Like a true original, Bill Van Every has devised his own poetic grammar of truth, and he speaks it with disturbing, hilarious clarity.” —Tony Hoagland
Kathryn Stripling Byer, poet laureate of North Carolina chose Devoted Creatures as the featured book of poetry for the month of July, 2005. www.ncarts.org
The Charlotte Observer reviewed Devoted Creatures in the February 1, 2004 issue.
Cosmik Debris reviewed Devoted Creatures online.
“There’s a directness here which comes straight from the unmediated gut, and there’s a spiritual ferocity, too, which cuts the psyche open and exposes the wild, aching human heart. Like a true original, Bill Van Every has devised his own poetic grammar of truth, and he speaks it with disturbing, hilarious clarity.”—Tony Hoagland
What Bill Van Every does very well is get your attention. These fresh and original poems reach out and grab unsuspecting readers, luring them in with deceptively simple and spontaneous verse, then touching them with the deep emotional resonance that lurks beneath. Widely published in the literary journals Asheville Review, Colorado Review, Interim, and Sow’s Ear, and chosen by Thomas Lux for the Tupelo Judge’s Prize, Bill Van Every is a poet that cannot be denied. He is already garnering national recognition, and is poised to be a bright and totally unique voice on the literary scene.
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for Pete Turchi
Thousands hopping on the low mud bank,
and me, with a quick stick, splatting toads at leisure,
amphibious baseballs for a nine-year-old.
My first failure: getting caught hands down for killing.
The lecture was on God not needing his creations
to hurry death along.
But we do, it is in us like rust,
like God deciding when things should die
is good for Him.
Good for me that day there by the water,
flipping a toad into the air, its legs cart-wheeling
in the centrifugal spin of flight, silver-black eye
recognizing me, the stick, the swing
one split of a second.
Improved technique produced concussioned frogs
at various distances,
fat mucilaginous tongues expelled from wide mouths.
The way death does a frog is legend to a boy.
God had a good idea in helping me select, saying
This one is larger, this one fatter and slower,
easier to catch than this here sleeker one; saying
Easier to hit, but will not fly as far
high over head and into water.
Water has a way of being God.
The manner in which it shines and moves
and wears the earth down to a nub.
The way it offers up its own
from the silk of birth.
Oh but there is another God, this one radiant and loud
like the sound of solid contact between stick and frog,
or the beginning of understanding
how exact and evil one can be.
The ability to separate frog from the lobbed arc of a toss
instilled a sense of world in me.
I was alive beside that still green pond,
and perfect inside.