Driving through the Country before You Are Born
69 pages
English

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69 pages
English

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Selected by Kate Daniels as the winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, Driving through the Country before You Are Born is the first collection of poetry from Ray McManus. The speaker in these poems searches for redemption and solace while navigating from a traumatic loss in the past to a present fraught with violence and self-destruction. The volume chronicles his attempt to glean some measure of forgiveness through acceptance of his own responsibly for his circumstances. The reader is called on to witness family stories without happy endings, landscapes on the verge of collapse, and prophetic visions of horrors yet to come. From these haunting visions, the only viable salvation is rooted in hope that, out of the ruins, there remains the possibility of a fresh beginning.


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Publié par
Date de parution 05 juin 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611171174
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0900€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

W INNERS OF THE S OUTH C AROLINA P OETRY B OOK P RIZE
Keep and Give Away Susan Meyers
Driving through the Country before You Are Born Ray McManus
Driving through the Country before You Are Born
Ray McManus
Foreword by Kate Daniels

T HE U NIVERSITY OF S OUTH C AROLINA P RESS
Published in Cooperation with the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, University of South Carolina
© 2007 University of South Carolina
Paperback original edition published by the University of South Carolina Press, 2007 Ebook edition published in Columbia, South Carolina, by the University of South Carolina Press, 2012
www.sc.edu/uscpress
21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Library of Congress has cataloged the paperback edition as follows:
McManus, Ray, 1972–
Driving through the country before you are born / Ray McManus ; foreword by Kate Daniels.
p. cm.
ISBN-13: 978-1-57003-702-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-57003-702-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)
I.Title.
PS3613.C5853D75 2007
811'.6—dc22
2006038762
The South Carolina Poetry Book Prize is given annually to the manuscript that wins the contest organized and sponsored by the South Carolina Poetry Initiative. The winning title is published by the University of South Carolina Press in cooperation with the South Carolina Poetry Initiative.
ISBN 978-1-61117-117-4 (ebook)
For Lindsay, Sean, and Morgan
Contents
Foreword
Acknowledgments
 
Go
Elm Street
Black
Burning Caterpillars
When We Came Home
Orientation
Boogie Man
Night Sweat
Gridlock
Perforated Ulcer
Red Barn
Mother,
Bitch
Negatives
A Short History of the Movies
Hush
The Accident
Under the Porch
What We Left Behind
Pavement
Dragging the Lake
Partitioned
Shores
Condensation
Oceans
Settlement
Transcontinental
Stumps
Hatchery
Jonah
The Long Way Home
Fist
Toilet
At the End of the Day
White
Expansion
Propulsion
Main Street at Eighty
Afterbirth
Post Partum
Exit Wound
Anniversary in Manhattan
Things to Tell My Son
Before Drowning
It's OK
Driving through the Country before You Are Born
Foreword
Driving through the Country before You Are Born is a wonderful book, and I am happy to award it first place in the South Carolina Poetry Initiative competition.These forty-six delicately constructed and beautifully descriptive brief poems are marked by an intensity of description and quiet thoughtfulness of voice. The book's lyrical exploration of the journey from innocence to experience is interestingly situated in a contemporary, postmodernist world that hovers between the rural and the urban, ranging from the farm child's dream of “a chicken, a house, and an ax,” to the horrifyingly discombobulated collision of culture and nature in “Main Street at Eighty,” where a car wreck that destroys a panhandler on the side of the road “should mean more than crack, block, / or cavity, more than old bolts and sockets, / lungs and rearview mirrors,” but unfortunately probably doesn't.
Slowly but surely, as the poems unload and unwind, a world lurches into view. First, we see the early life, at the beginning, “when it was all good.” This is a child's sensory paradise made from fields and trees, and sun and shadows, from “dust / flittering in the sunlight around / the Mason jar on the ruddy brown dresser.” As we recall from our own early lives, all objects and items seem charged and promising, potent with the murky but beguiling promises of the future.
At the center of the book's submerged narrative, however, resides a trauma. And although it never fully emerges into the story of the poems, we know it through its rupture of the promise of early consciousness. Slowly, reading these poems, we witness the betrayal of early imagination as metaphors transform ripeness into ruin, and it becomes apparent that “everyone knows / there will no longer be such a thing / as being together anymore.” Repetitively, suggestive images of the early, violent death of a boy arise in the poems. It is a death for which the book's persona feels responsible and in which he may be implicated. Its reverberations reach both forward and backwards through the genealogical ages until no one is innocent, touching upon the Troubles of Northern Ireland, and infecting the contemporary characters in the poems who take a shotgun to pregnant dogs, huff in a grandparent's garage, and don't believe in anything anymore. “Maybe that is why / men with broken teeth stand behind us / and hold their broken tongues, shake / their heads in shatter as if you're already gone.”
The book's exploration of trauma is both psychologically sophisticated and poetically interesting. It makes a serious contribution to our literature by representing the ways in which even the most courageous mind, attempting to confront the source of its trauma, will flinch away at moments, unable to endure its findings or to accept the pain of recalled images and details.We see this beautifully but heartbreakingly portrayed in “The Reprisal,” part of a sequence of a longer poem.
Somewhere between then
and twenty-seven, my cousin is running
up to me, the bottom of his mouth
blown to pieces. He slouches back,
long neck in front of me, hands cupped
against his chest keeping the chunks
from falling to the ground. And to think
that I'm not so much troubled
by the sheer mechanics of it all
as I am that I can't remember
if it really happened, or if I dreamt it,
or thought I dreamt it because I couldn't
accept that it really happened,
that I was somehow responsible,
that I handed him the match.
And although this is a book in which there is no happy ending, no belief in salvation, and no redemption in faith, there is solace of a sort. In “Jonah,” we read, “I found no god / in the belly of a whale, only warmth; / a place that was quiet. I found no god in quiet, / but I liked it there, even though I couldn't stay.” Perhaps, what we take away from this book is the poet's solace in the quiet solitude of the writer at work, searching for the temporary consolations of the right word in the right place, and the power of that small act—made over and over again— to keep us alive and to keep us writing.
K ATE D ANIELS
Acknowledgments
Grateful acknowledgment is given to following publications in which some of the poems first appeared:
“What We Left Behind”: Yemassee
“Stumps”: Cold Mountain Review
“Shores”: Natural Bridge
“Oceans” and “Settlement”: Illuminations
“A Short History of the Movies”: Interdisciplinary Humanities
“Orientation”: Crazyhorse
“Go”: Borderlands
“Red Barn”: Nimrod
“Fist”: Los Angeles Review
“Black” and “White”: Recorder
“The Long Way Home”: Natural Bridge
“Trenches”: Ellipsis
“Fallen”: Oakland Review
“Postpartum” and “Things to Tell My Son”: White Marsh Review
“Negatives”: Jabberwock
And in the following anthologies:
“Gridlock,”“Main Street at Eighty,” and “Pavement”: Traffic Life
“Burning Caterpillars,”“Orientation,” and “Go”: A Millennial
      Sampler of SC Poets by 96 Press
Go
You know the word doesn't sit well,
yet you round the vowel as if
you know what you are talking about.
Like sitting in traffic with your hands
between your knees and a whisper stuck
in your throat.There are no excuses.
Cars race at an impossible pace around you,
a dog darts from house to house
then four lanes over to the other side,
never lifts his head to look. A nickel
rolls along the walk, and you don't know
which side to be on, which house should go
where, which direction is better.
Perhaps it is friction that you are after:
rubber to asphalt, skin to skin,
two lovers going at it in the back
of a Suburban in the middle of an empty
parking lot, rowdy kids running through
the hallways of old churches, sand
against the bottom of the bottle,
the sun on your chest and throat.

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