Praise for The Black Ocean
BARKER CREATES A HARROWING WORLD threatened by the inescapability of its own complex, often dark history, a world on the brink of chaos and collapse. Though these poems are frequently dizzying and threatening, they are also distinguished by technical dexterity, sonic complexity, and a truly visionary sensibility. The Black Ocean confirms my belief that Brian Barker is one of the most ambitious and talented young poets at work in America today.
“DEATH IS THE MOTHER OF BEAUTY,” Wallace Stevens contended, and Brian Barker’s lovely, heart-wrenching poems glow with the vision, the poignant vanishing light, of last things. They scroll down the page with a lyric grace, a sacred rage, a spooky, apocalyptic power, and a visionary gleam.
—Edward Hirsch, author of The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems
FROM THE COMMERCE MADE of historical depredation to the fever dream of end times, Brian Barker plumbs to harrowing depths. Were the darkness unrelenting, it would be far easier to bear, and the poetry less courageous. These are not poems for the faint of heart. They are tribute to the cleansing power of the good hard gaze.