The twin ravens, Thought and Memory, of Norse myth are reborn as American crows to fly an interweaving pattern or remembering and forgetting through the pages of Lapse Americana. Born out of the poet's childhood during the Pax Americana and situated within the war and economic lapse of the new century, these poems explore memory and amnesia, faith and doubt, presence and absence. They are rooted in rural, working class experience as well as in the poetic traditions of America, Europe, and China. By turns formal and jazzy, confessional and coy, these poems speak of the universal by focusing on the particular, insisting with simultaneous emphasis upon the value of remembering and of embracing forgetfulness.
Memory is the axis these splendidly evocative poems revolve around, poems infused with a hard-won wisdom, melancholy and affection for the poet's childhood and young manhood in a prairie setting. Benjamin Myers delights and surprises us by his startling imagery and technical skill, but even more by a rueful awareness of the swiftness of time, and the wonder of the ordinary events that fill it.
—Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Ruined by Reading
Benjamin Myers' work is bedrock American with county fair Ferris wheels and the drought cracked earth of Oklahoma always in the foreground; no glamor sugar coats the boredom of small town teenagers. His honesty scorches in his war poems, in his compassion for the woman left behind by a husband starting a second family, and in his own safe bookish life. We are all complicit in the life portrayed by this poetry, although few of us have the daring of his directness.
—Karen Swenson, winner of the National Poetry Series
In Lapse Americana, Benjamin Myers proves the poem is ready to take on anything and everything, whether it's Dante, Oklahoma, the city dump, Virgil, the circus, the analog world, Anchises, divorce, the Alamo, racist friends, Paul Klee, Hamlet, harvest, and yes, even mannequins, knock-knock jokes, Odin, and head lice. Like Walt Whitman, Myers sees poetry as a democratic project, a celebratory endeavor that creates inclusion rather than exclusion. Myers' uncanny ability to merge accessibility with invention reminds me of fellow Oklahoman Woody Guthrie. Both Guthrie and Whitman would admire Lapse Americana's masterful mash up of aesthetics and ethics. Of one thing I'm certain—this poetic land was made for you and me.
—Dean Rader, Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize