Photo Courtesy of the Author
Joshua Poteat’s most recent book The Regret Histories (HarperCollins, 2015) is a selection of the 2014 National Poetry Series. He is the author of Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World (University of Georgia Press, 2009) and Ornithologies (Anhinga Press, 2006) as well as three chapbooks: The Scenery of Farewell and Hello Again (Diode Editions, 2014), For the Animal (New Michigan Press, 2013), and Meditations (Poetry Society of America, 2004). He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
The Scenery of Farewell
“Whether subverting the buoyant liturgical optimism of Smart’s iconic beast fable in For the Animal or experimenting with intertextual structures in The Scenery of Farewell (and Hello Again), Poteat’s restless aesthetic investigation is admirable and exciting to witness. If at the heart of Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’ lies the drama of identity, then at the core of Poteat’s eclectic vision exists the drama of our marvelous yet mortal landscape, specifically the myriad ways one reimagines its baroque spaces and beguiling inhabitants. Although Poteat’s artistic unpredictability leads him to experiment broadly with narrative and lyric modes as well as various formal devices (hymns) and constraints (erasures), his sensibility remains constant: he’s drawn to an early-industrial, Southern landscape and the vulnerability of its creatures, both of which reflect the grotesquerie, extravagance, and multiplicity of our times. As Poteat writes in the final poem in For the Animal: ‘For the animal mosquitoes the veil, reblooms the air, sorts through the hailstones for the right twilight.’ Poteat’s vision contributes to our literature the genre of the steampunk pastoral, in all its hybridity and stylized éclat.”