Pages: 128 Size: 6x9
Jack Ridl returns with a collection of poems that mix deft artistic skill with intimate meditations on everyday life, whether that be curiosity, loss, discovery, joy, or the passing of the seasons. An early reader of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch said it best: "Ridl’s books are all treasures, as is he, and his poetry has always been trout-quick, alternately funny and wondrous, instantly intimate, and free of pretense. All these characteristics can be found in this book, and there is something else, something extraordinary: at an age where most poets are content to roll out an imagined posterity, he’s decided to push and refine the art, to see out the day and live it fully, because art and life settle for no less."
The first section of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch reflects on the author’s personal history, with poems like "Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning" and "Some of What Was Left After Therapy." The second section continues with meditations on varied events and persons and includes poems such as "The Last Days of Sam Snead" and "Coffee Talks with Con Hilberry." The third attends primarily to the mystery of love and what one loves and contains the poems "The Inevitable Sorrow of Potatoes" and "Suite for the Long Married." The fourth and final section meditates primarily on the imagined in poems like "Over in That Corner, the Puppets" and "Meditation on a Photograph of a Man Jumping a Puddle in the Rain."
Saint Peter and the Goldfinch is the work of a talented and seasoned poet, one whose work comes out of the "plainspoken" tradition—the kind of poetry that, as Thomas Lynch puts it, "has to deliver the goods, has to say something about life, something clear and discernible, or it has little to offer." Readers of poetry who enjoy wrestling with life’s big questions will appreciate the space that Ridl allows for these ruminations.
Open this book to page 27 and read ‘Ice Storm.’ Feel how it settles in your chest, how your breath resounds with a long, deep, ‘Yes,’ how subtly you are changed by what you didn’t know you knew. I’ve been reading Jack Ridl’s poems with admiration and wonder for almost forty years now and this new work goes ever deeper into the intensified heart of our everyday lives.
– Dan Gerber
The amazing poetry of Jack Ridl is written ‘in the dust along the windowsill, / the star’s lost light falling across / the vase of flowers on the kitchen table.’ They are windows opening to mortality; they strike with the grace of starlight, and the warmth of flowers beside a meal. Ridl never fails to illuminate.
– Terrance Hayes, poet and professor
These poems typically begin with a series of quiet, levelheaded observations and end in a wild imaginative leap. Jack Ridl has found a pattern that delights and surprises us poem by poem.
– Billy Collins
For a long time now, Jack Ridl has understood The Word, The Logos, as a meeting place of the body and the mind, the past and the emerging present, time and eternity, the concrete and the abstract, the inner and the outer worlds, the human will and the unknown, and he has practiced said Word as a way to clarify his heart, rectify his spirit, and demystify the workings of the human eye in order to realize human consciousness as a blessing, rather than a blight characterized by confusion and error. In his latest book, we witness his practice deepening, and not far below the warm and neighborly tone of these poems is the sound of a man more and more alone with The Alone. By salvaging what he can of the real and immediate world around him, he preserves for us the idea of The Human as precious and worth saving.
– Li-Young Lee, author of The Undressing