Blue Colonial
The Americans

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Reviews

“These eloquent poems show, in line after line, how charged and poignant is the intersection between history and memory. These are poems of hidden lives, where the power of colony often yields to the love of place. This is an outstanding debut collection.”

 

–Eavan Boland

“Here is a poet's true evocation of time, of the fact that we are all destined to live in the puzzling, enticing tragi-comedy of our cultural and personal origins. David Roderick has imagined that destiny in a memorable new way.”

-Robert Pinsky

“David Roderick's poems are exquisitely made with language that is rich and precise. He convinces us that we are all pilgrims committing our acts of courage as well as our little crimes. This book is immensely rewarding.”

-James Tate

“In Blue Colonial, David Roderick’s astonishingly accomplished collection of poems, Roderick continually ‘roam[s] the periphery’ in search of something new. What he finds there by way of salvage, excavation, renovation, and restoration is a ‘new language to weigh each item’ of his recoveries. And what he demonstrates in a steady and equable fashion is the over-arching lesson of art and life: ‘the harder something was, the better chance...of finding it.’ I’m grateful for what Roderick’s roaming has produced, these poems that bring the periphery of American history, collective and personal, into sharp, material focus. In doing this Blue Colonial provides a fresh entrance into the future of American poetry.”

 

–Michael Collier

 

“Indeed, every thing included in these poems can be read as a sign-from the memento mori that is ‘a wasp nest inside a skull,’ to cordwood to rabbit pelts to beans. Even throwaway objects are imbued with significance; each carries a secret world of its own. The broader historical renderings, along with a fine attention to minute particulars, gives this book a quiet luminosity caught in the undertow of a eulogized past. If, as Roderick writes, ‘We need a new language to weigh each item,’ each object and fact of history, this book takes us a good deal of the way.”

 

–Emily Rosko, The Missouri Review

 

Blue Colonial gavottes between concerns of historical and personal heritage in an invigorating interplay of separate narratives... As the collection evolves, the speaker and his masked colonial surrogates ride a collision course, and the detachment provided by the tales of Plymouth Plantation allows the poet to resist romanticism while simultaneously lifting the veils that obscure and conceal.”

 

–Michelle Lewis, The Gettysburg Review

 

“With a lyric yet reticent voice, Roderick’s poems illuminate how poetry as well as history can turn ‘a pile of junk’ into ‘a kind of faith.’”

 

–The Poetry Foundation

 

Blue Colonial is a beautifully crafted collection... Roderick is extraordinarily adept at giving us sensory access to the past.”

 

–Kelle Groom, The Florida Review

 

“The lives and thoughts of the Pilgrims seem remote from modern culture, something relegated to Plimoth Plantation and reading The Scarlet Letter in high school. David Roderick disputes that notion, and in his book, Blue Colonial, he weaves together poems, both historical and autobiographical to illustrate how past and present intertwine and bear upon one another.”

 

The Old Colony Memorial

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Reviews

The Americans is a compelling meditation on the ways we go about our lives at this cultural moment, often unmoored from the facts of history though we drift along its shores. Part complicated love letter to suburbia, these poems demand that we consider not only what we are drawn to but also what we fail to see, how the apocryphal feeds our cultural amnesia. The poet asks: Must nostalgia/walk like a prince through all our rooms?  This lovely collection shows us a way to confront that question within ourselves.”

 

—Natasha Trethewey, former U.S. Poet Laureate

 

“Like Robert Frank in his great photo essay of the same name, Roderick has some news for us: not only do we not know where we’ve come from, we don’t know where we are. With care and a restorative watchfulness, he has made terrific poetry out of our drifting in the fog.”

 

—David Rivard

 

“The mindfulness and torque of this beautiful collection may be judged by the double drift of its epigraph: Nous sommes tous Américains. Words of solidarity, words of aspiration, words (too often) of chagrin or shame. De Toqueville to Moose Lodge to Trail of Tears: the whole rich mix of it is here, in poems exquisitely conceived and rendered.”

 

—Linda Gregerson

 

“It’s sort of remarkable the way David Roderick makes such gorgeous music of the deep and abiding loneliness of which our lives—and our nations and dreams—sometimes, often, are made. It’s the music, the beauty, after all, that’s balm to all this sorrow. The Americans reminds me of this.”

 

—Ross Gay

“Taking its title from Swiss photographer Robert Frank’s 1958 photo essay covering a vast cross section of the particulars of American life, Roderick’s collection is infused with both the keen de-familiarizing eye of the foreign observer, and the care and insight of the life-long resident, working in the simultaneous themes life as an American and America to a traveler.” 

—Evan Goldstein

“In David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, a complicated national citizenry emerges, stirred by dreams and privileges, violence and regret, utterly insistent on borders, however blurred they may be, and intent on home as a pastoral heartland.” 

—Benjamin Jackson, The Iowa Review

 

 “My feelings about David Roderick’s second collection, The Americans, are decidedly not ambivalent: I love this book. Yes, I read Roderick’s collection as if he’d written it for me. Yes, in poem after poem, I found myself coming closer and closer to understanding this strange place in which I have lost myself. But make no mistake: The Americans is no self-help book, no guide to suburban living. Rather, this compelling and beautifully crafted collection offers all of us a chance to examine the places we make our homes, to remember what these places might mean in the context of American history, and to consider how they might shape American culture.”

 

–Brian Simoneau, The Rumpus

“Reading [Galway] Kinnell and Roderick in tandem this way — both of European descent, both concerned with private and American mythologies, with family and history, both in possession of an original and vital language jones — renews my sometimes flagging faith in the ability of poetry to be both political and personal, culturally attuned and aesthetically moving, private and social. Heeding, over the decades, Emerson’s call for an American poet, these poets remind us that keeping pace with who we are requires the kind of listening and “distance” from any notion of a self that we risk losing in our fleet, self-obsessed, Fear Of Missing Out blur.” 

–Lisa Russ Spaar, Los Angeles Review of Books