Ledger of Crossroads

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In James Brasfield's Ledger of Crossroads, layered by light and shadow, the crossroads emerge from distinct yet inseparable geographies. Grounded in the sensual world, the poems fuse American and Eastern European landscapes: "the char of silence and beauty, / brick foundations of what was here, dirt roads / cut through pines, rivers and the dust of the dead." Here are experiences from the American South, of those who believed Jim Crow "the way things... had to be," and from the fallen imperiums of those "who have always / returned to fewer trees and a wall," whose intimate perceptions provide moments of reprieves: "beyond the faint scent / of almond in the air and heavy clouds / funneling from the earth into snowfall, / the current calmed within that distant / bend of the Vistula." Here we become the identities of others, their time and place, from the strata of their histories. They enter our lives.

LSU Press

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This slim volume by Brasfield (Inheritance and Other Poems) covers a great range of subjects, among them ekphrastic tributes, the work of van Gogh, and re-creations of Ukrainian landscapes. The most pervasive sensation evident here is nostalgia. The sober tone, delivered in a manner reminiscent of Philip Larkin or Robert Pinsky, brings to mind places and events from the past that the poems seek to reconstruct, as expressed in the lines "to think about what around me/ is yet unaltered by others and thus/ reaches back, before the stone wall." The irony is that nostalgia, when used effectively, makes us long for a place or time that never existed as we remember it. Although every poem attempts to make a convincing argument, Brasfield's solemnity make his poetry seem distant, and he fails to generate the emotive force central to poems written in this mode. VERDICT A varied book that suffers from a lack of emotional range, this work would only be of interest to die-hard Brasfield readers.—Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807135204
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

James Brasfield has twice been a Senior Fulbright Fellow to Ukraine and has received fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the American Association for Ukrainian Studies Prize in Translation, and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. He is the cotranslator of The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents


Identities 3

The Chair and the Pipe 6

The Renovation 7

The Anatomy of Nostalgia 9

Perigee 11

From the Ledger of Crossroads 13

MacDougal Street 15


Necessary Days 19

Heart of Dixie 20

The Illness, 1960 21

Waynesboro 24

Passage 26

Pietas 27

Woods 28


Tracks 33

The Knobbed Whelk 34

Letter from Germany 35

Chernivtsi 37

Celan 39

The Blue Cottage 40

The Replenishment 43


The Relief 47

Notes 55

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