Bouquet of Hungers
Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in
Pub Date: 10/25/2007
List Price: $21.95
Bouquet of Hungers
Kyle Dargan's new collection of poetry reflects his many passions as a poet, his deep engagament with what it means to work in the African American literary tradition, and his lively voice, infused with hip-hop sensibility and idiom. Skillfully blending vernacular and elegant diction, his clipped and reflective phrasings create animated poems that take on a myriad of concerns. Moving through such subjects as a midnight wait in the Washington, D.C., bus station, men on exhibit at the 1904 World's Fair, the sights and sounds of an Indiana karaoke bar, and an imagined escaped slave turned to stone, Dargan's work continually shifts lenses to examine an America increasingly stifled by dogmas and inept social categories. At the core of the book is compassion for the individuals who populate it, and from that compassion grows a hunger for the old identities, in which we encase ourselves, to come undone.
From "Palinode, Once Removed": The day we pursue metaphor, I will / teach them about the brain—how there is a center / to catch discrepancy between the expected / and the perceived. Stimulate the mechanism. / you are working in metaphor. / Though surprising / I am not a metaphor. This is: I am a period, / small and dark. If you read me correctly, / you are to stop. Pause. Breathe.
Dargan's voice is fresh, yet speaks with the received wisdom of forebears, literary and otherwise. He takes risks with diction and form, and grounds his eclectic exploration of subjects in a quest for truth-telling and understanding. His careful pruning of language, with attention to nuances of Black vernacular; his taut yet fluid syntax; and his 'saturation' of imagery give Dargan's best poems swagger and heart.
—Sharan Strange, author of Ash
Dargan writes with the jet black ink of twentieth century Race Men; men who dressed, spoke, volunteered, reported for duty, stood unflinchingly for Black America. These men were teachers, corner preachers, goateed intellectuals, and midnight carpenters. Their hankering hearts craved to give birth to different images and words, raw and ripe with bitter but necessary truth. These men thirsted to do and say whatever the race and the country—at the time—needed. This same ravenous desire is found in Bouquet of Hungers. It is indeed Dargan's yen and sweet tooth.
—Nikky Finney, editor of The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South
In his follow-up to his welcome debut, The Listening, Kyle Dargan goes even further, venturing both literally and metaphorically into the heart of America. Whether in a series of flashbacks or 'post-soul papers,' whether in a bus terminal or in taking on what's terminally wrong with society, Dargan’s work leaves us hungry for more. Urgent, musically fierce, and poetically unique, Bouquet of Hungers heralds a fresh voice in American writing, as varied and vibrant as the country Dargan inhabits, critiques, and makes his own.
—Kevin Young, author of For the Confederate Dead
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Hurston/Wright Foundation