- Anaphora: An Elegy: “Raised on the Flathead Indian Reservation, where his stepfather and brothers are tribal members, and a firefighter for ten years, Goodan here memorializes his cousin Jimmy, never referenced by family or friends after he hanged himself. And that flat summation says absolutely nothing about the heart-searing intensity of this distinctive book. Instead of offering a straightforward account, Goodan gives punch-in-the-gut snapshots of both his and Jimmy’s pain, repeating and compacting words and phrases in a dense and fractured syntax: ‘Sway November watertower bright/ where Rosabelle believed/ fuck Joe Grady fuck your dog/ dead as the Houdini you rode in on.’ The poet later cries, ‘someone cut my cousin down please/ goodbye goodbye cut him the fuck down’ and acknowledges the pain of ‘packing Jimmy/ all these twenty years.’ Finally, when he says, ‘When Jimmy told people/ he could fly nobody came/ so when he let loose/ the rope he was alone,’ we get the sense of a wound-up dreamer looking for escape, maybe, but also something better. VERDICT Tough emotionally and stylistically but a remarkable read.”
- Arguably the dominant presence in [Kevin Goodan’s] Winter Tenoris the unstoppable energy of the natural world, its ebbs and flows, its violent, unexpected turns and its stark beauty: “For what is the earth but a thing / To make time visible / And what is there, finally, to hold— / The ewe gone hoarse from bleating, / The lamb in me not singing to be saved.” There are as many “unsayable things” captured in the precision of Goodan’s writing as there are “unseeable” ones—the violence many of us are privileged to elude, the unflinching faith of a speaker on fire for living.
—Kristen Evans, Kenyon Review
- Upper Level Disturbances, we are given the “whispered home to the lightning” where “the levees sing of snake-grass burning.” With a steady hand, Goodan unfurls the line into the rough and jagged physicality of the world until the sublime transcends its earthly frame. These are hard-earned poems, brought back to us from a difficult land. They are “prayers . . . adorned with rivets of fire” within which the “laws of nature / Determine all the grief one eye can hold.” Upper Level Disturbances is one helluva good book, and I recommend it highly.
—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise
- Good Night Brother, the tension between saying and not-saying is palpable, intense, and deeply moving; similarly, the gestures of innocent ease and alert vigilance are unnervingly close. Kimberly Burwick deftly inhabits divided realms—the lushness of the giving, natural world and the violence of the human-made one, and as every poet of witness must, she accepts the weighty task of naming exactly what she sees before her. In these spare and yet richly sensuous poems, every human experience touched is indeed ‘blessed with utterance.’”
- Custody of the Eyes, by Kimberly Burwick, is a tapestry of intense lyric poems weaving the love of a mother for her young son, with the horror of the stolen babies of Franco’s Spain. The poet writes: “I’ll eat the flies the angels/ left behind” calling up death, penance, and holiness all at once. In these poems a mother must be mother to all—“Because I saw your birth, I am responsible for all the dead.” Burwick has an unflinching eye as she walks us through landscapes of greed and brutality where infants who could have been like her own beloved son are bartered and sold.
—Anne Marie Macari