What people are saying about the book...
What I like most about poet John Macker's writing is that he's always pushing the limits of language. DESERT THRENODY is a kind of sampler of his writing life, in that it contains, most unusually, a mixture of critical essays, a play, short stories, and occasional passages of natural history. But whether he is writing critical prose or theatrical dialogue, his language keeps wanting to break into poetry--not from ostentation, I think, but because language never goes quite far enough for him, and he's always reaching for the meaning just beyond words. His subject is the American West . . .a West that embodies, "the holy matrimony of echoes and canyons," that uplifts as much as it terrifies, that teaches as much as it mystifies, that is "the intersection of sacred directions, the celestial versus the subterranean,".
-Gerald Nicosia, author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac and Beat Scrapbook.
“All time is simultaneous,” writes John Macker in Desert Threnody, and darned if his book doesn’t prove it. Through essays, a one-act play and short stories, Macker brings the echoes, rumors and legends of the West’s past into the reckoning present, placing us “in a much larger knowing.” He weaves the lives of real and fictional poets, musicians, outlaws and dreamers to create a history as vast, rich and desperate as the landscapes and cityscapes they inhabit. To read Desert Threnody is to feel “part of a bigger something … something with more meaning attached to it.”
—Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, author of Hush and Naked for Tea
This is the book I have been waiting for from John Macker and I didn't even know it.
Sorta like life, we get what we get when we get it.
Fall is trying to stretch its way out of summer as Desert Threnody pulses at the printer.
It sings on the shelf, wails on the light table, adjusting consciousness with each edit.
She is a thin, compact beast of a book introducing us to other great books, how to play a one-act play while walking us through the remains of the only West.
This is a guide book much like Lew Welch's How I Work As A Poet, a book that should be slid into any satchel on a daily basis.
Hopefully it finds its way into the future box set, A Poet's Guide To The Galaxy.
It is an honor to publish my friend, John Macker. Our friend/poetship is approaching 30 years and I needed every one of those in preparation for this achievement. I have never been more proud of a book. My mission is to always have a box of them on hand to hand out to those who seek it.
-Michael Cartright, auxarczen press
Beware: this book contains "Coyote Acid", a one-act play that will rewire your brain and make you "fall to your knees and howl". Desert Threnody also illuminates the outlaw art and poetry of Ed Dorn, Tony Scibella, Tony Moffeit, Michael Ondaatje, Stuart Z Perkoff and Kell Robertson. An extraordinary tour de force, John Macker's poetic sensibility creates an eclectic form that includes a play, artist's essays and short stories that channel the duende to reveal the noir of now in America.
-John Knoll author of Ghosting America and Black Mesa Blues
Who is John Macker...
John Macker grew up in Colorado and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He has published 8 full-length books of poetry, 2 audio recordings and several broadsides and chapbooks over 30 years. His most recent are Atlas of Wolves, The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away, Selected Poems 1983-2018, (a 2019 Arizona/New Mexico Book Awards finalist), Gorge Songs (with Denver woodblock artist Leon Loughridge), Blood in the Mix (with El Paso poet Lawrence Welsh) and part three of his “Badlands” trilogy, Disassembled Badlands published by Colorado’s Turkey Buzzard Press, 2014. In 2019, his poem “Happiness” won a Fischer Poetry Prize finalist citation, sponsored by the Telluride Institute. He was a recipient of the first Mad Blood Magazine Literary Arts Award and won the James Ryan Morris Memorial “Tombstone” Award in 2001. His recent prose and essays on poets and poetics have appeared in Albuquerque’s Malpais Review (where he was contributing editor), Cultural Weekly, as it ought to be magazine, Miriam’s Well, Mad Swirl, Manzano Mountain Review and Lummox Journal. For the last 25 years, he has lived in Northern New Mexico.
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