Let’s Talk Poetry – Lapse Americana Review

To further my education and to expand my literary horizons, I have made it a point to add a good dose of poetry into my reading schedule every year. I don’t pretend to be an expert in poetry; I know nothing of rhyme and meter. I do know what sounds gorgeous to my ear, and what offends it. I tend to like a poet’s work because it moves me, period. I especially love reading local poets from right here in Oklahoma. Benjamin Myers holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf not only because he’s the uber-talented son of my friend and fellow writer, Anna Myers, but because his poetry is just plain beautiful.

lapse americanaHis latest book of poetry, Lapse Americana, feels like a slice of home, and it’s just as rich with the flavors of his native Oklahoma as his first book, Elegy for Trains. Whether he’s exploring the emotional depth of the gravediggers in “A Production of Hamlet” or the meaning and significance of nothing in “None of This” or the meaning of everything in “The Tardy Ones”, his writing is effortless and evocative.

Brief description of Lapse Americana:

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. (Book description from publisher’s website.)

Here’s one from Lapse Americana that aptly describes some of our tumultuous spring weather, one to which many who live here can readily relate :


Toward evening the clouds began

circling each other like dogs.

A light like the golden skin

of the sun itself fell

steady as rain before rain

and puddled between round bales

uncollected in the pasture.


Then the utility poles

were a row of broken teeth

up the highway to town,


and once again

the ordinary light.

The way he describes the light before a storm is just fantastic. Here’s another one of my favorite poems:


Talking to My Racist Friend

I read somewhere that all the sunlight

smacking the earth

at any moment

weighs as much

as a cruise ship,


which makes me


how much the darkness

in this conversation

with you

must weigh:


Eight semis stacked in a pyramid

and balanced on a teacup?

The Empire State Building

sopping wet?

All the dirt in Oklahoma?


Or maybe a cruise ship

of its own,

with doe-eyed passengers


dumbly from the deck

as they sail obliviously off

to kiss the sullen iceberg.

Amazing, right? I know you’ll want to read more. To order this book, visit the New York Quarterly Books website here. To learn more about Benjamin Myers, visit his page on NYQ here. You can also visit his blog here.

12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Poetry – Lapse Americana Review

    1. I know! He’s such a great talent. Not surprising with his literary genes. His writing makes me wish I’d had a chance to know his father, you know?

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