Synopses & Reviews
In his third collection, My Father Says Grace, Donald Platt combines elegy with verse of larger historical allusion and reference. At the center of the book stand poems detailing a fathers stroke and slowly developing Alzheimers disease and how it affects one family. An extended meditation on a mother-in-laws dying provides counterpoint to elegies for more public figures like Walt Whitman and Janis Joplin. The private life in the valley of the shadow of death” often gets juxtaposed with explicitly political verse. One of these poems records the racially charged conversations in a small southern towns Amazing Grace Beauty Salon. Another describes a Vietnam protestor, famously photographed while sticking flowers in an MPs gun barrel, alongside images from his later life as a transvestite. The poems tend to find themselves in the midst of crisis, historical or personal. They yearn for transport” and strive to be carried across, away, out, toward, back into / / some new country / where the soul improvises, croons scat to itself alone.”
This is a book of the highest lyric ambitions. Almost every poem, however plain-spoken its subject, sets itself challenges of language and order which are met head on. On almost every page there is a marvelous to-and-fro between darkness of lossa fathers approaching death, a brothers vulnerabilityand the exuberance of language, the sheer eloquence of organization which are no less than their due. These are wonderful poems; they make superb, wrenching reading.” Eavan Boland, author of Outside History: Selected Poems, 19801990 and Domestic Violence Donald Platts poems are fearless and generous aria-narratives, each distilling complex essences into a single, telling scene; through their attentive particularities, universal colors emerge. The abiding affirmation in Donald Platts work is that whatever exists must be made welcome and known. The result is an optimistic book, full of compassion, interest, and sheen, in an age when an unblended optimism is much needed.” Jane Hirshfield, author of Given Sugar, Given Salt and After Grief-struck and world-adoring, these poemsin their gorgeous and distinctive swelling and contracting tercetssay grace for a family struggling with a father's stroke and dementia, a brother's Down syndrome, a mother-in-law's terminal cancer. My Father Says Grace constructs its layer on layer of elegy in a fugue-like structure, with tenderness, humor, and startling intimacy. Platt's poems move beyond the personal circumstances of illness, loss, and proleptic grief toward something like an autobiographical metaphysics, meditating unflinchingly on a world of aging, death, and loss and saying, in its own devastating way, yes and amen.” --Bruce Beasley, author of Lord Brain and The Corpse
In his third collection of poems, My Father Says Grace, Donald Platt mixes elegy with larger historical allusion and reference. At the center of the book stand poems detailing a father's stroke and slowly developing Alzheimer's disease and how it affects one family. An elegy for a mother-in-law provides counterpoint to elegies for more public figures like Janis Joplin and Walt Whitman. The private life "in the valley of the shadow of death" often gets crossed with explicitly political poems, such as a meditation on the long history of racial tensions in the deep South, or one on a Vietnam protestor, famously photographed sticking flowers in an MP's gun barrel, alongside images from his later life as a transvestite.
About the Author
Donald Platt is an associate professor of English at Purdue University. His previous collections, Fresh Peaches, Fireworks, & Guns and Cloud Atlas, were published by Purdue University Press as winners of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize. He is a recipient of the Discovery”/The Nation Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Book Arts Poetry Chapbook Prize, and two Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in many magazines and journals, including The New Republic, Nation, Paris Review, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Field, Iowa Review, Southwest Review, and Southern Review, and have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2000 and 2006. He lives with his wife, the poet Dana Roeser, and their two daughters in West Lafayette, Indiana.