American Wake

New & Selected Poems

Title Details

Pages: 160

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Pub Date: 04/01/2005

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8180-4

List Price: $25.00


NewSouth Books

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POETRY / General

American Wake

New & Selected Poems

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Thomas Rabbitt’s first book, Exile, won the U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum in 1975, and, through another dozen collections over the years, he has continued to win the admiration of readers and other poets. As Fred Chappell observes, “Mr. Rabbitt is the genuine article. Hardly a line in [American Wake] doesn’t ring with wry, sad humor, along with a plentiful dose of self-mockery. Here is a poet who tries hard—always.”

American Wake contains fourteen new poems, plus poems from six of Rabbitt’s previous books (several smaller books and chapbooks are not represented). The present volume is thus “selected” rather than “collected,” and the poems were chosen by the author on the basis of what caused him the least urge—looking back over three decades of writing—to “slash and burn.”

As readers, we can be grateful that he resisted that instinct toward his earlier work, though he has always done both with our prejudices and preconceived notions. A formalist, traditionalist, modernist, post-modernist, outsider, scholar, and critic—Rabbitt is all and none. The only safe assumption one can make about this gifted writer is that his poems, as Rabbitt said, “disturb the universe just by being.”

American Wake is an important book and a body of work that any serious reader of poetry should know.

—Andrew Hudgins, author of Ecstatic in the Poison and winner of the Poets' Prize for After the Lost War

Perhaps it has to be the poet’s first article of faith that "Nothing’s pointless under the spinning sun." Perhaps this faith is what makes the lines of Thomas Rabbit’s American Wake so seethingly a-buzz with life, with pungent insight, and with close focused feeling. This selection of his new and old is valuable in many ways, not least in reminding us how substantial is this fine poet’s achievement

—Fred Chappell, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, author of Spring Garden: New and Selected Poems

Tom Rabbitt’s American Wake, a book freighted with a lifetime of intense living, is as beautifully crafted and polished as an expensive sloop; and as sharply and deftly etched as its complex path of emotional tacks. As with any major aesthetic achievement, it has in tow what has led it forward, a commitment to art that is nothing less than devotional.

—Jack Myers, author of OneonOne and As Long As You're Happy (winner of the National Poetry Series award)

Thomas Rabbitt is a poet not nearly as well as well known as he ought to be in this day of boring and tiresome poetry in politics and vice versa. He has come up with a brilliant and clever way of looking at poetry, prosody, and the world in which we have to do our best to live, even if we don't. There are touches of John Berryman at his best in this book. Also, as there should be, of Wallace Stevens, Roethke, and of course, Yeats, ever-increasing in stature.

—Andrew Glaze, author of Remembering Thunder and Someone Will Go On Owing (winner of the Southeastern Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award)

About the Author/Editor

THOMAS RABBITT was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Iowa. Now retired, he is the former director of the creative writing program at the University of Alabama. He lives with his horses in Lewisburg, Tennessee.