Tug

Tug

by Stephen Todd Booker
     
 

Stephen Todd Booker, an inmate on Florida’s death row, writes piercingly of incarceration. But he also sings, in a voice at once jagged and polished, of racism in Brooklyn and the South and of growing up black in 20th-century America, as he examines his life experience with metaphors that test the limits of language.

Overview

Stephen Todd Booker, an inmate on Florida’s death row, writes piercingly of incarceration. But he also sings, in a voice at once jagged and polished, of racism in Brooklyn and the South and of growing up black in 20th-century America, as he examines his life experience with metaphors that test the limits of language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Comments Booker ( Waves & license ) in ``Requiem,'' ``How / Very sweet I would be seen as being / If willing to drop what takes guts to cite--'', and indeed, this is a challenging book. The writer is an inmate on Florida's death row, but his imagination is unconfined, ranging far both spatially and temporally. In ``Wisdom,'' he remembers as a kid in Brooklyn chasing and abusing a shoeless Jewish man: ``We kids hurried back to our own hometurf, / Back to the things we cared about and knew. / And you know what . . . ? It was good to be home. / It was good to have homes, shoes.'' In the chilling ``The Wrong Boy,'' Booker describes in the first person a man hunting down his great grandfather's lynchers: ``They had all worn that same questioning, / Quizzical sort of look near to where just / Before when I cured them, of everything.'' The poems chart both sides of violence, racism and despair. No wonder Booker imagines critics to be ``entrapped by the fury / Eking out of my pen,'' or that ``jongleurs of an oblique critique / Had me metaphored into something paused, / Although my aim was straight and true.'' His poetry is written without allegiances, speaking openly ``about things not to be said aloud'' and ``unawed by the thawed out realities / that shine in from afar.'' (May)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780819522122
Publisher:
Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
04/01/1994
Series:
Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

Hayden Carruth
“Poems like nothing ever done before. In an act of spontaneous craft Booker distinguishes between idiom, vernacular, and diction, giving us a hard-wrought and complex language—a match for his ideas. Tug is a personal odyssey . . . It will make its mark in the world.”
Gwendolyn Brooks
“The reader soon decides that neither magic nor malevolence shall overwhelm this author. Technical fireworks. Independent energy.”
Brenda Galvin
“There is only so much the English language can do. Stephen Booker in Tug tries to make it do more. The very effort results in marvelous iniquities, extending and dogged . . . Familiar personality is here, and he has an inclusive interest in looking directly into the eyes of life and conceding that in them are to be found not only what is in a number of ways magic but also — distinctly — what is terrifyingly malevolent. The strength of Tug lies in its original subject matter, prison life, and the excellence of the language with which Booker portrays that life. In the face of renewed interest in traditional forms, Tug disproves the idea that only ‘genteel’ subjects can be handled in them!”

Meet the Author

STEPHEN TODD BOOKER’s poetry has appeared in Kenyon Review, Seneca Review, Yankee, Cream City Review, and other journals. He published the chapbook Waves & license in 1983.

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