Red Clay Weather

Red Clay Weather

by Reginald Shepherd
     
 

“Among other things, Shepherd has always been an elemental poet. His work abounds with the imagery and motifs of water and fire, and while those elements are important here, it is air and earth that are the more dominant elements in this collection. . . .

Clay, red clay in particular, recurs several times throughout the collection as a motif of earth. It is

Overview

“Among other things, Shepherd has always been an elemental poet. His work abounds with the imagery and motifs of water and fire, and while those elements are important here, it is air and earth that are the more dominant elements in this collection. . . .

Clay, red clay in particular, recurs several times throughout the collection as a motif of earth. It is the substance of creation, but always of impermanent things, whether heroes or Babylonian statues with feet of clay, or of things durable but fragile, such as the cuneiform tablets of ‘A Parking Lot Just Outside the Ruins of Babylon.’”
—Robert Philen, from the Foreword

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his posthumous sixth collection of poems, Shepherd (1963–2008) inhabits a world darkened by the bout with cancer, which he lost, in which he must "open the front door that won't lock/ properly, walk out with calcium-deficient bones, a rising/ viral load, testing degrees of never." These last poems, edited by Shepherd's partner, Robert Philen, put Shepherd's careerlong synthesis of classical imagery, African-American history and experience, contemporary language, and edgy aesthetics to new purposes ("Fleet Achilles refuses to outrun death"). Often, these poems seek to preserve bits of memory, or at least do so when viewed from this vantage point: "I lost it years ago," Shepherd writes of a photograph, "water-damaged, fading." Shepherd takes stock of his whole life: "My mother was the murderous flight of crows/ ... gleaming/ among black branches." Other poems more or less obliquely touch on politics ("Just outside the dust of Babylon, tank treads/ not designed for desert transport/ grind down the royal road from Sardis") and friendship between poets ("Ruined water will not impede her/ progress through the music"). Looking toward what's ahead, Shepherd concludes, "How I want to believe." Shepherd was a beloved and controversial poet; his voice will be missed. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“These last poems put Shepherd’s careerlong synthesis of classical imagery, African-American history and experience, contemporary language, and edgy aesthetics to new purposes. . . . Shepherd was a beloved and controversial poet; his voice will be missed.”
—Publishers Weekly
 

“I’m forever grateful to University of Pittsburgh Press and Robert Philen for Red Clay Weather.  Reginald Shepherd's poetry is pearl-like: vulnerable and enduring, an iridescent response to the world's potential threat and damage. His work is exquisite, unabashed, encompassing, real, and all too rare, an extraordinary natural artifact of existence.”
—Amy Newman

“At mid-life, the self starts to dissolve into a more impersonal Self—call it something integrated, individuated, divine. Like those whose names are ‘writ on water,’ Reginald Shepherd’s final poems in this posthumous volume testify to a life courageously lived to the full—an Orphic downstream singing to the end.”
—Timothy Liu

“Reginald Shepherd’s full contribution to his art and his community will take some time to become clear, but this book goes a long way toward that clarity. These poems are filled with a terrible brilliance, as when he says: ‘Nurse says she recognizes me in light's edict.’ We who watched the work appear over the decades recognize him here, making his love to the language, sharing his dreams and ambitions for it.”
—Bin Ramke

“Shepard was one of the finest young poets of his generation. Loud, proud, and obssessed with poetry, he knew how to awaken people with its power and how to destroy myths about the limits of language. His five books will stand the test of time as some of the best collections of the last 20 years.”
The Bloomsbury Review

“[‘Red Clay Weather’] may be his best and most consistent collection; these lyrical testimonies move with great, surefooted earnestness and poignant musical clarity from one end to the other.”
Ploughshares

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822961499
Publisher:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
01/30/2011
Series:
Pitt Poetry Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
104
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

Meet the Author

Reginald Shepherd (1963-2008) was the author of five previous books of poetry: Otherhood; Wrong; Angel, Interrupted; Some Are Drowning; and Fata Morgana. His work has been widely anthologized, and has appeared in four editions of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize anthologies.

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