PRAISE FOR LIFE IN THE SECOND CIRCLE:
Dante’s second circle of hell was reserved for sins of lust, but Cantor’s narrator does not judge his infernal cast of characters; rather, he causes us to identify with their essential human neediness. What’s more, he does so through a cinematic gift for storytelling and a mastery of poetic form.
– Julie Kane
Michael Cantor uses words to paint and sculpt the world. He writes the world too—which I don’t say as an afterthought, since verbal wit is Cantor’s forte. Life in the Second Circle is a sensory kaleidoscope where the poems are more like movies.
– Deborah Warren (from the “Foreword”)
To be called “a poet’s poet” passes for a compliment among poets. Michael Cantor is another, rarer kind of poet—let’s say “a novelist’s poet.” This poet knows things that writers of fiction know about writing, and that other poets ignore at their peril. This extraordinary collection is testament to his unaffected generosity and genuine interest in other people, qualities that make him good company in person and in print.
– Alfred Nicol
This is not your mother’s book of poems.
– Wendy Videlock
Like Muhammad Ali, one of the “Box Men” he celebrates in a virtuosic crown of sonnets, Cantor is a master of floating like a butterfly in a small, roped-off space. In his hands the most formidably difficult forms—villanelles, triolets, Petrarchan sonnets, sestinas, ballades, and equally rigorous stanzas of his own invention—become spurs to imaginative freedom. Like the vividly drawn characters who populate Life in the Second Circle, we are constantly reminded that one never knows where life will go, or how or when or where. But it’s a pleasure to be along for the ride.
– Catherine Tufariello
Michael Cantor’s work has appeared in Measure, The Dark Horse, The Raintown Review, Umbrella, SCR, Margie, Chimaera and numerous other journals, e-zines and anthologies. His honors include the New England Poetry Club Erika Mumford (2006) and Gretchen Warren (2008) Prizes. He has been a finalist or semifinalist in the Howard Nemerov, Donald Justice, Richard Wilbur and Morton Marr Award competitions. A chapbook, The Performer, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007. A native New Yorker, he has lived and worked in Japan, Europe and Latin America, and now lives on Plum Island, MA.
PRAISE FOR A VERTICAL MILE:
Deeply rooted in the human history and natural order of his native state, Richard Wakefield’s A Vertical Mile depicts life in rural Washington—people, animals, plants, geological formations, the weather and the seasons. Building on his powerful and impressive first collection East of Early Winters, Wakefield, in A Vertical Mile, has now firmly established himself as one of America’s foremost formal poets. In their memorable presentation by way of deftly employed narrative, meter, rhyme, metaphor, symbol, and diction, the poems in this new collection, once read, cannot be easily dislodged from the mind. That, in itself, is evidence that Wakefield’s best poems are a permanent addition to American letters.
– David Middleton
Richard Wakefield crafts his verse to exacting standards yet keeps it uncontrived. Throughout A Vertical Mile, Wakefield shows us much about ourselves and the various worlds we inhabit, often of our own making. What he reveals may be sobering or amusing, uplifting or distressing. But, carried by a voice as versatile as the intelligence behind it, it is sure to surprise and delight us as well.
– David Sanders (from the “Foreword”)
Richard Wakefield writes with a rare metrical skill that calls to mind the poetry of Robert Frost, and like Frost he tells intricate and compelling stories about ordinary people living close to the land. But there’s nothing nostalgic here. There’s compassion, and decency, but never an easy answer. Wakefield’s choice of conventional form is a wry and subtle comment on the contemporary moment, and his mastery of that form raises his work above all the chaos and fads. No, these poems are not nostalgic. They are timeless.
– Chris Anderson
The arc of discovery is what one traverses in Richard Wakefield’s poetry. It may be a remembered seascape made new by the dust of familial ashes or a lost town, covered by a century of a forest’s reclaiming growth. As a poet of the outdoors—one who sees and, seeing, makes new what he has seen—Wakefield is unsurpassed.
– R.S. Gwynn
From "Mechanophobia: Fear of Machines":
There is no work left for the husks.
Automated welders like us,
your line replacements, can't expect
sympathy after our bright
arms of cable rust over. So come
collect us for scrap, grind us up
in the mouth of one of us.
Let your hand pry at the access
panel with the edge of a knife,
silencing the motor and thrum.
Jamaal May is a poet, editor, and filmmaker from Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His poetry won the 2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize and appears in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, The Believer, NER, and The Kenyon Review. Jamaal has earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and The Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. He founded the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press.