This exciting new collection of poems explores the inner and outer geographies of human life. Not only physical travel but also love and disease, politics and popular culture, whose contours we learn by necessity as we experience the terrains given to us.
Radavich's poetry is adventurous and wide-ranging. He is the author of Slain Species (Court Poetry, ), By the Way: Poems over the Years (Buttonwood, 1998), and Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2000). His plays have been performed across the London U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway productions, and in Europe. America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View, 2007) narrates history from World War II to the present from the perspective of everyday Americans, while Canonicals (Finishing Line, 2009) investigates “love’s hours.” Middle-East Mezze (Plain View, 2011) explores a troubled yet enchanting part of our world. U.S.
Radavichhas published academic and informal essays on poetry and drama and has read his work in a variety of locations, including Canada, England, Egypt, Germany, Greece, and . Winner of numerous awards, he has served as president of The Thomas Wolfe Society and the Charlotte Writers’ Club and is poetry editor of Deus Loci. Iceland
The Countries We Live In. What
a wonderful title. Of course it means
geographical places like
“I don’t want to take your time / for what is not
essential.” Lean, clean-lined,
economical—yes. But the poems in The
Countries We Live In are not minimalist. They do not evade their subjects; they are not
wisps and hints. Here are piercing
observations, wild surmises, pulsing thoughts, “adventure and
test,” often with a sharp spice of humor.
—Fred Chappell, former Poet Laureate
Radavichreveals The Countries We Live In with an all-seeing and wry eye and tender sensitivity. In this collection of lyrical journeys from such disparate places as war-torn 1975 Belfastto sun-kissed Corfu, Radavichsavors the beauty of nature and the mysteries of human nature. From our wheat-gold Midwest to , where the “moon pulled down its scythe,” poems examine the splendor and the heartache of our lives, how each day “lovers recover their skin.” The music that moves these poems is the lonely dance, the human condition his words so honestly portray. Loss and desire are ever near from sonnets to politics, from the love of guns to objects that “hide us from ourselves.” With Pawleys Island Radavich, we travel the “heady wine of sea and history,” and when we close these pages, we are “heavy with departing” and ready to begin again.
—Diana Pinckney, author of Alchemy
Reviews of The Countries We Live In:
“As always, Radavich gives us marvelous lines. It's the kind of collection to turn to if you feel the slightest bit blue. He has a way of looking at the world that's so fresh and engaging. It’s a slim book I keep close at hand.”—Jean Grant, author of The Burning Veil, in Good Reads
“Radavich’s new poetry collection
combines refined sensibility with a life-affirming world view. On one level, the author takes us on a voyage
through geographic realms like
Radavich exhibits a strong sense of design in large matters as in details, in the unfolding arrangement of the poems as in the structure of individual works. His characteristic style relies on 2- or 3-line unrhymed stanzas, with frequent enjambement, that connect the eye to individual words without interrupting the flow from line to line. The linkage between focus and flux enforces a careful reading.
The characteristic Radavich line is at once lapidary and multi-faceted. Many poems begin with a question: “Can we choose / not to remember?” (“Tenth Anniversary”); “What is this life of things?” (“Materialism”). In the course of the poem the problem is argumentatively and metaphorically explored, recalling the metaphysical poets. The pointed conclusions of the poems particularly challenge and surprise the reader.
Radavich is no decontructionist or postmodernist. The rich variety of themes of social engagement and alert sense of what lies beyond literature and language makes that impressively clear. In the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, his perspective of the voyager renders the quotidian strange and the foreign familiar. Language is not everything, but for the poet it is the means for apprehending the world. In the end, this book becomes an adventure, a quest that, through the cycles of becoming and leaving behind, marks a new beginning.”―Dieter Schulz, in Trans-Lit2 (excerpt, translated from the German)
“David Radavich, an award-winning poet and
playwright, explores a variety of terrains in his book The Countries We Live. He
says he is ‘trying to find words that help make sense of this experience
we call living’. . . . I find his
poems most intense when he uses personal references. Radavich addresses a battle with cancer in
two poems, including ‘Lazarus,” where he witnesses, after a time of
doubting, ‘miracle enough / how life walks forward.’ When the poet explores the landscape of
“Like Whitman, in “Every
Day the World Starts Again,” Radavich connects the quotidian to the
cosmic, calling our attention to the repeated miracle of life. . . . In addition to meditations on ways life’s
journey is defined by the vessel of the body, The Countries We Live In also studies the ways we journey beyond the limits of the body. ‘Materialism’ asks, ‘What
is this life of things?’ and satirically contemplates the objects with
which we surround ourselves and in which we invest so much of our own psychic
energy. . . . The Countries We Live In contains meditations on the natural world
and numerous poems that reflect on politics, culture, and religion, but
throughout the volume travel is employed as metaphor for our exploratory
consciousness, making us more mindful of the various ‘countries’ we
inhabit. The volume’s triumph can
be measured by how thoroughly the reader is taken along on the journey. These are not poems that serve as the poet’s
purely personal travelogue in verse; rather, they transport the reader into
places both exotic and familiar, making us more richly present within ourselves.”―George