Any Moonwalker Can Tell You: New and Selected Poems

Front Cover
Stephen F. Austin University Press, Apr 15, 2024 - Poetry - 120 pages

Selected from six collections and over two decades of poems beginning with the promise of Nightwalking and carrying through to the award-winning Bone Music, Joel Peckham's Any Moonwalker Can Tell You draws from the best of a maximalist, gritty body of work that manages to balance page and stage. Intense and accessible, these poems channel the cosmic, longlined, and loose-limbed expansiveness of Whitman and the sonic, image-driven experimentation of Kinnell. Though this is a Selected Poems, there is thematic unity--a focus on how the personal and the collective intersect, how acts of empathy can access the ecstatic, and how music has the capacity to transform despair into hope. Beginning with the poet walking at night through a midwestern town and ending among the stars in a sequence of new poems that completes the collection, there is an upward and outward trajectory. Of Peckham's collection, The Heat of What Comes, composed in the aftermath of an accident that took lives of his wife, Susan, and his oldest son, Cyrus, Jack Ridl once wrote that "Joel Peckham has written a survival guide to America" in which the reader is "hurled through the culture's plurality of attacks on the heart. His grief is searing. He leads us through." Taken as a whole, this New and Selected Poems is a testament to the poet's recognition that survival is not enough, we must find a way to keep living, keep making music even after the record has stopped spinning: "the song having ended but not the hurried beating of the heart."

About the author (2024)

JOEL PECKHAM, JR. is an Assistant Professor of Regional Literature and Creative Writing. A scholar of American Literature and a creative writer as well as a former Fulbright Scholar, his reviews, essays, scholarly articles, and poetry have been published in numerous journals, including American Literature, Black Warrior Review, The North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, and The Sun.

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