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"Gary J. Whitehead is a master in poetic structure. Strange What Rises offers us a platform on which we can safely be still so that we might contemplate, mourn, or even celebrate, for example. With the purity of Jack Gilbert and the perceptiveness of Jorie Graham, Whitehead’s poems in Strange What Rises demonstrate deliberate foundations, flourishing scaffolding, and breathtaking ornamentation."

—Heather Lang, The Literary Review

"... not one syllable out of sync. This poetry is acoustically perfect and intellectually honest—two things seldom found together. He reveals—by way of location, sound, and visuals—an arc within each story where we learn what is beautiful. I would encourage students of poetry to read this book for its foundationality in what poetry can be. This poet can be a motivator for writers."

—Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books

“Gary J Whitehead’s poetry is pleasant-voiced but not in the ‘easy listening’ sense: it combines approachability with subtlety and seriousness, and the lightness of touch is never wearyingly ‘lite’. … A distinctive, quiet-voiced, sharp-eyed collection, its attentions range over the literary and the linguistic.”

—Carol Rumen, The Guardian

"Gary J. Whitehead, in A Glossary of Chickens, ... prefers his settings homely and rural... But he goes to nature for similes, not for stories, and that nature is resolutely northeastern:  wet, human-scaled, not sublime, and full of vicissitude. ...Whitehead (to quote the Pet Shop Boys) is never bored: anything, the more humdrum the better — scrambled eggs, 'pokeberry ink,' a car battery — can prompt a real poem. reread his book is to see its invention — and to wish it were longer."

—Stephen Burt, The Yale Review


"Whitehead is every bit deserving of his place in this series (the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)…. There is genuine poetic engagement in these poems …. Whitehead presents us with a world that stands up to close examination, a world in which the study of pieces of nature…uncovers the strange and wonderful truth that ‘the flush of the known universe is in him.’”

—Laura Bast, Dalhousie Review


"Whitehead’s graceful free verse and gently metered poems exhibit subtle rhyme, energized concision, sharp imagery and, most importantly, a natural way of talking that is rich in tenderness and wit."

 —Henry Hughes, Cloudbank: A Journal of Contemporary Writing


“Whitehead’s poems are learned without being fussy, masterfully observant and complete. ... in almost every line in this book, I find wise, well-marked approaches to answers....There’s a reliable steadiness that is never soporific, the energy unwavering ....”

—Barbara Berman, The Rumpus


“Quietly witty, observant, and frequently sad, this third outing from Whitehead sets itself apart through understatement, and through the connections it keeps making between contemporary midlife dilemmas and the 19th-century American literature…Childlessness—and, apparently, divorce—flutter through Whitehead’s lines like the sad and comical chickens in the title poem, and in the heartbroken ‘The Coop.’ The more contemporary poems…sustain a personal gravity …it all holds together as the record of a sensitive, careful, unfashionable, acoustically gifted soul...”

Publisher's Weekly


"...the impressive debut of academic and animal lover, Gary J. Whitehead, is full of startling images...."

—Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph


"In poems of carefully controlled lyricism, he writes convincingly 'about the difference // between lust and love'...There's the sadness of 'Spice Rack'...and the humour of 'Sleeping with My Dog' ...."

—Keith Richmond, Tribune Magazine


"The first thing to strike one about Whitehead's poetry is the simple beauty of its language. He clearly knows language as a tool to create art, to create beautiful objects....The collection is a quiet carpe diem, not shouting it, as so many literary works do, as if seizing the day were only possible to the loudmouthed and frantic. Instead, it seems to say that enjoying our daily bread with full awareness is the profoundest form of seizing the day."

—Michael T. Young, The Inner Voice, blog (interview and review)



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