By Michael Earl Craig
Publication Date: April 02, 2019
With his fifth collection of poems, Michael Earl Craig delivers a fresh set of tableaux that have us squinting aslant at the ordinary. Dexterously constructed, the scenes, conversations, letters, instructions, stories, bios, and little fables of Woods and Clouds Interchangeable twist the comedic into shapes of startling seriousness, making us laugh at the same time they widen the dimensions of the world we live in.
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In his craft book, The Art of Recklessness, Dean Young writes that “the highest achievement of human consciousness is imagination, and the highest achievement of imagination is empathy.” It seems every poem in Woods and Clouds Interchangeable evokes Young’s aphorism in the way that Craig’s characters either connect or fail to connect with one another through shared or refused imagination. Sometimes this theme takes the form of a plea for empathy between imaginative beings."
Nate Duke, The Adroit Journal
Woods and Clouds Interchangeable is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, though its humor is black and strange. . . . But like the best comedy, there is an undercurrent of seriousness that runs throughout Woods and Clouds Interchangeable. In Craig’s hands, the different modes aren’t at odds, and in fact work together perfectly.
Kevin O-Rourke, Michigan Quarterly Review
He turns words on edge like jazz. His juxtapositions are ludicrous and illuminating — fable, story, anecdote, joke — he delights that part of us which hungers for fresh stark originality and the spirit that lofts it.
Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review
The book itself is gently touching in a way that with other works can come across as saccharine. With Craig it simply comes across as attentive and the reader is happy to be introduced to Craig’s objects of attention.
Leah Kiureghian, Rhino
Michael Earl Craig is from Dayton, Ohio, home of the gas mask and the mood ring. He is the author of Woods and Clouds Interchangeable (Wave Books, 2019), Talkativeness (Wave Books, 2014), Thin Kimono (Wave Books, 2010), Yes, Master (Fence Books, 2006), Can You Relax in My House, (Fence Books, 2002), and the chapbook Jombang Jet (Factory Hollow Press, 2012). He lives in the Shields Valley, near Livingston, Montana, where he runs a full-time farrier practice. He was the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Montana.
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