“Elgin Pelicans is an achievement of modern lyric.”
In his second full-length collection, James Stotts’ lyric voice is unflinching, and cut-to-the-bone. The poems in these pages encompass observations, delights, occasions; studies and laments of the makers; thoughts of fatherhood, husbandry, and pilgrimage. Hellenic winds blow through Colorado, Ireland, New England. Feral ghosts and old friends speak from their hidden places among the trees. The birds of Russian wilderness sing in Boston mornings. Memory mingles with imagination.
But whether the moment is contemplative or tempestuous, its forces are contained by the poet’s masterful precision. Stotts employs lithe, sharp language to get directly to the heart of the matter, without throat-clearing or other narrative superfluities. In each poem, the unshaped contents of the mind take on sudden crystalline form, the way breath-smoke on a winter windowpane will freeze into intricate configurations before melting back into fog.
Ann Kjellberg, editor, Little Star: "In the poems of James Stotts, a lonely man — hung-over, or a little drunk — navigates his way among the world’s last things. He is saved not by answers but by song: the rhymes come closer, the rhythm approaches the heartbeat, and at the end the language itself seems to offer some simple orientation, a firm bed on which to plant a foot. The reader feels they are eavesdropping on his thoughts, in which he sets so little stock he does not even bother to clothe them in type. And yet these thoughts are born up from beneath by a stately rhetoric as old as Herbert—and indeed the pivot at his final couplets often calls the Metaphysicals to mind."
Melissa Green, author of Magpiety: "Finding Stotts’ poetry, I felt the way one does when you see an athlete, say a figure skater, perform a perfect routine, where the music, the poise, the genius of the body all work sublimely together, and when it’s over, you clap with a concussed kind of joy because you know you have seen something extraordinary."
Irene Koronas, Poetry Editor, Wilderness House Literary Review: "Rich with fresh images, these poems go beyond themselves. Stotts dares to verse the present-day drama in the same way yesterday wrote its story. Since is not a doom’s-day or end of the world reflection, but it is a beginning that has been seen before: 'we’ve come in and out of death—/ the long climb, barefoot, up the rocks// was just like the morning/ plucked with His fingers from the cool atlantic'. This is lyric poetry that teases; converses; connects us to the characters and ideas god may have for us, or to god as lost meaning."
Pen and Anvil (May 24, 2019)
104 pages; 7.5" x 9.75"