In his dark and often humorous debut, The Early Death of Men, Clint Margrave gives us poems that provide no railings for the honest, frank edge on which they stand, poems that peek through telescopes and key holes in equal astonishment, devour words like stars devour planets, or lovers one another. Written in a language as accessible and sturdy as our bones, The Early Death of Men is humane, deliberate, and witty. An impactful, original, and fierce collection that despite its name promises to remain vital long after you put it down.
It seems at least a decade since I wrote a brief preface for an early chapbook of Clint Margrave's poems, announcing the intelligence, talent, erudition, worldly experience, and confident voice which augured such a bright literary future. Still, the scope, variety, maturity, and syntactical artistry of this monumental compilation caught me by surprise. With these poems he takes his place among the elite verbal practitioners of his generation. To the wit he has always displayed, he has added the wisdom and complexities of the self-reflective life. This work well deserves the imprimatur of NYQ's esteemed and indefatigable editor/publisher, Raymond Hammond. When a writer has cleared such high hurdles of our profession, the self-assurance achieved unlocks the remaining chambers of his gift. The next time a blurb is called for, I suspect it will be I who is petitioning him for it. And it had damn well better be a glowing one!
Clint Margrave, a highly original observer, sees things that have always been there in front of our faces but that we have never seen. Like Celine or Ionesco, he sees the absurdity in life and makes dark, ironic humor out of it. He's not one of those poets who do tricks with words and images like a juggler seeking applause from the crowd. His poems serve to reveal the humor, beauty, complexity, absurdity and genius in the universe, mixing scientific curiosity with poetic intuition, restoring our wonder at the magic of ordinary living. At their foundation is compassion for us "mortal fool" humans with all our missteps and suffering, and a profound desire for enlightenment. Let's all enjoy our good fortune in reading these wonderful poems Clint Margrave gives us.
Clint Margrave writes high-octane poetry about such matters as finding his father's brain stuffed in an envelope, the neighborhood woman who never stops crying, the kid with one eye and a paralyzed face whom no one wants to sit next to. Not poems about the great New Year's Eve party but seductive, dead-ahead poems about the ordinary, unassuming second day of the year when "no one wants to quit smoking / or propose / or make promises they canít keep."