Chip Livingston confronts and immerses himself into new cultural territories in his second poetry collection, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK, an examination—critical, colloquial, and personal—of identity in terms of geography, experience, and blood quantum. A southern, gay, mixed-blood poet is thrust into the big-city literary life of the New York School artists in Greenwich Village, yet finds “home” in Uruguay with an Argentinean. CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK crosses traditional Native American narrative and incantatory styles with the quick-witted street poems of the New York School. It crosses the border into the southern hemisphere and bears witness to the influence of the Rio de la Plata, the grand capitols of Montevideo and Buenos Aires on its shores. From rural coastal roots to urban urgency and back to the rhythm of rivers and ocean, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK maps the continents of the Americas.
Tim Dlugos meets Elizabeth Bishop in Chip Livingston's sparse, cool, elliptical, always lyrical, never coy, language-radiant poems of two hemispheres, and of two halves of the brain—the shiny and the deep.
In some Apalachee brotherhood revelings, Chip Livingston's poems bring us something tangible and super real. Crisscrossing crocodiles, manipulating letters swelling with squirrel tail hatbands and witnessed challenges, this book generates the equation of points unknown and in-progress, juxtaposed in pristine blue. This is the savor, a cloth, a chair, a walking stick. This is a guide to the lists of life and their puzzles. It is an image-ridden keyhole venture into life and times we leave believing we should know. CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK doubles perspective, creating channels of confluence in stunning waving verse. The knockout punch is only a line away and it delivers every time.
—Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
This is a body of words which move through western thought into indigenous worlds without one taking away the other. Livingston's book contains waterfalls of words that come to a pond of humanity, life force, the very need of each soul asking for love, "Do you like the fry bread? Do you like me?" Sometimes there is a sadness, but mostly there is pollen, life force, humor, lists of the new old America, and a surprising honesty. The poems are verbs, are windows that let in ghosts, but they are also DNA of the writer, a part of him always remaining everywhere.
Chip Livingston's new collection, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK, with its north/south orientation, resists the traditional (Native) American east/west telling. Livingston, with his perfect ear, chooses his dazzling, shining words carefully, like his corvine brothers. And like his southern hemispheric cousins, the bowerbirds, arranges and constructs these bowers, these poems, to draw us in and delight. Here we find a happy home.
—James Thomas Stevens