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Ravage & Snare – Matthew Carey Salyer

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“Tomorrow is knocking out my teeth from within.”

A songbook of immigration, family lore and self-invention, Ravage & Snare seems to have been perpetual from the moment of its composition. Categories of lyric and narrative are dismantled and reconfigured in language that dashes thrillingly from level to level of history and fiction, low register and high. The overall effect is medieval, though the scholastic scope is always tethered to the real-world “Zion of jaundice and tar.” With its priestly humanity and demotic heartiness, this book is the debut of a considerable talent.

William Brewer, author of I Know Your Kind: “‘The men I know are prone to disciplining / natural speech around strangers,' writes Salyer, and indeed, his poems—formally agile and wildly musical—read like a record of what happens when a voice is turned inward for decades, even as it grows with the languages of war, history, Catholicism, Irishness, and the Bronx, only to erupt in a lexicon, style, and poetry all its own.”

John Hennessy, author of Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims: “Journeying from the Bronx to ‘an enormous nerve of the Euphrates' and back, these poems are full of kinetic wit, muscular diction, virtuosic syntax, and impeccable timing. I know of no poet who can simultaneously deliver an idea and an expletive as deftly, as elegantly, whether he's putting the lie to childhood's ‘outer-borough illuminati' and the ‘Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual / of the Cross-Bronx Expressway,' satirizing the ‘Hobbesian, hiving' mode of Hudson-Line commuters, or shouldering and attending to ‘the burden of grace.' Salyer immerses us in ‘the inner world where I am (he is) / griever and God' through poems that teem with aural pleasures and precise sensory delights, that are as full of joy in fatherhood as sorrow in the loss of father, and are never far removed from the body, from the confluence of physical and spiritual appetite.”

Patrick James Errington, winner of The London Magazine Poetry Prize: “Ravage & Snare fastens here to elsewhere , self to family, baroque and mythic to the gritty everyday. But this is no simple yoking together. Salyer's fiercely wrought language reminds us that the ties that bind are only a hair's breadth from entangling, ensnaring, even strangling. Knotted, gnarled, yet at times recklessly tender, each poem is, as we are, tied alive and writhing to the page. As Salyer warns, here even ‘the past / has no escape route.'”

Ellen Adair, author of Curtain Speech: “Words are plastic in Salyer's hands, bending their parts of speech to his layered purpose, and line endings are mines of meaning and subverted expectation. Metaphors constantly accrue in such succession that they seem effortless, creating a rich canvas of overlapping images. Rhythm is always employed in the unforced musicality of the text, while sounds constantly call back on each other—in short, Salyer's poems are replete with that which makes poetry poetry, and not just glorified prose.”

  • Title: Ravage and Snare: Poems
  • Author: Matthey Carey Salyer
  • Publisher: Pen & Anvil
  • Place: Boston
  • December 31, 2019
  • Format: Paperback
  • Condition: New
  • Length: 92pp
  • Dimensions: 6” x 9”
  • ISBN: 9780991622290