Alex Grant is a Promethean poet, which I know sounds maybe a bit pretentious. But he seems to be everywhere--publishing poems in just about every journal and e-zine, writing poems non-stop, posting on facebook, making numerous friends. How does he find such energy, this transplanted Scotsman? Is he a shape-shifter? He calls himself Alex Cougar Grant, but I think he must be Coyote! His sense of humor runs non-stop. He's a craftsman of great facility and sometimes, I think, trickery. He loves a joke. He loves the English language and how to play with it and let it play him.
Fear of Moving Water, $15.00,
59 pages, ISBN 978-1-936138-02-9
600 Overbrook Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356
Alex's chapbook Chains & Mirrors (NCWN / Harperprints) won the 2006 Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize and the 2007 Oscar Arnold Young Award (Best North Carolina poetry collection). His second chapbook, The White Book, was released in 2008 by Main St. Rag Publishing. His poems have appeared in a number of national journals, including The Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, Best New Poets 2007, Arts & Letters, The Connecticut Review, Nimrod and Seattle Review. A recipient of WMSU’s Pavel Srut Poetry Fellowship and the Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets Prize, he lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with his wife, Tristi, his dangling participles, and his Celtic fondness for excess. He can be found on the web at www.redroom.com/author/alex-grant.
Here are some testimonials to his work:
"Alex Grant is a fabulist who spins language acrobatically into tales, tales into music, music into myth. Reading him (preferably aloud) is pure pleasure for the imagination, the mouth and the mind."
--- Susan Ludvigson
"If you value linguistic fluency, the flow of the English language along the warp of syntax, the weaving of image and rhythm into a tapestry of sound, you will find yourself immersed in Fear of Moving Water. Alex Grant brings his keen sense of language to every poem and he writes unashamedly out of the sheer pleasure of that language. Where does a poem's sense of place begin? In the naming of things. Grant names the world in all its multitudinous glories and terrors. Reading his poems kindles our desire to live again in that world."
--- Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate & author of Coming to Rest
"I've always believed that poetry depends on two truths: the probity of mystery versus obscurity, and the musical resonance of words within the poetic line or phrase. Alex Grant probes a menagerie of mystery in these poems, and among the younger poets I've encountered, he is more finely attuned to the music of poetry than most. He is a poet to be reckoned with, and he is worth every nuance of the serious reader's reckoning. This is a book that compels our reading, and our re-reading."
--- Martin Lammon, Arts & Letters editor
"These historically savvy, philosophically ambitious poems demonstrate as much linguistic and syntactical dexterity as they do an expansive literary mind at work. Alex Grant casts his visionary net far and wide, capturing the dark and shimmering..."
--- Dorianne Laux
NERUDA’S SUICIDE NOTE
- In memory of Spalding Gray
They say nothing ever changes
but your point of view.
Nothing – “some thing
that has no existence” –
this makes no sense.
I sit in the catacumbas
and listen to the rain
pound the papaya leaves -
my skin like confetti,
my heart a cheap lottery.
I have seen the tiger’s stripes –
they live between
the fine linen sheets
of an office-girl’s bed,
in the afternoon fumblings
of someone who is no-one,
with a heart bursting
like a red balloon
on a tap – the pieces fly
in all directions, you cover
your face with your hand,
and it sticks to your skin
like confetti, like phosphorus
launched from a Greek warship,
like the skin of a plum
peeled by a broken nail.
SECRET SONNET FOR THE COCKROACH
They live without their bodies for a week,
you know – subsisting on the head, the mind
alone - they flit like frogs beside a creek
whenever pounding footsteps come to grind
their crunchy shells into some pristine hard-
wood floor. You stamp on one, and six white eggs
are jettisoned inside a fibrous shard
they say is tougher than a whiskey keg.
Four billion years and evolution’s passed
them by – this crevice-living dinosaur,
resisting every futile fog and gas-
filled labyrinth - unlike the Minotaur -
bull-headed, eggless doorman of the maze -
that mythic locus Theseus embraced.
THE LONG, SLOW DROP
A wedge of salted cantaloupe
sinking in blue agave.
A bruised peach
in a white porcelain bowl.
The heart’s iambic thud,
like steps on maple floors.
Four strands of hair
in a lover’s mouth.
A zinc nail sunk in bitumen.
A black-haired boy
seen in a rear-view mirror.
A plum tomato skewered
on a bamboo stave.
A Chinese flag buckled
in the monsoon’s lull.
The white afternoon
turning to November dark.
- For the Haiku Master Issa, and his father
19 days into the late spring moon,
Issa pours sugar down his father’s
throat, rubs his feet and shoulders,
listens, in the early hours, to breath
labor like fading wind. He watches
him mouth unheard prayers, hears
the rattle in the gullet, the invitation
to the moon to walk with him again.
Delirium comes in many forms, but
none so blatant as necessity, none
so welcome as the inevitable stone
sinking back into amniotic blue.
HIS HOLINESS THE ABBOT
IS SHITTING IN THE WITHERED FIELDS
- after Buson
The mortal frame, the Haiku Masters hold,
is made up of one hundred bones
and nine orifices.
The mind this frame contains can be used,
or not used, to make the poem,
or become the poem.
Becoming is accomplished without thought,
making requires the application
of intent and will.
All change comes from objects in motion.
To capture the thing at rest, you
must be moving.
So, 7 days bereaved, Issa made his father’s
death poem: “A bath when you’re born,
a bath when you die – how stupid.”
Grief is a silk neckerchief covering a burn
around the throat, holding sound
down in the body.
And so we make these sounds without
thought – the heretic body burns,
intends, and moves.