All animals struggle to survive. In John Barr’s poems, the success of the heron hunting, the albatross breeding, and the inchworm spinning give proof of life. But for us, that struggle includes the eternal presence of war. Does the fall of Rome, the Battle of Shiloh, the Normandy Landings––and today’s wars––give proof of life or only of the struggle?
“John Barr’s collection takes its title from an ancient Greek statue that was unearthed after 2,000 years—a fitting emblem for a poet inspired by the deep connections between past and present, history and nature. Whether he is writing about mushrooms on a forest floor or a Civil War battle, Barr offers pleasures that are seldom found in contemporary poetry: a strong formal imagination and the company of an adventurous mind.”
—Adam Kirsch, author of The Discarded Life
“In his tenth book of poems, John Barr succeeds with an ambitious spectrum of form and content. His subject matter spans from classical to contemporary. Like his titled boxer, Barr contends with all sorts of challenges, and he prevails, whether encountering a haruspex or a utility company! Most outstanding is his epic on the South China Sea, where politics meets poetics and history tells a story with surprising strength and finesse.”
—Susan Kinsolving, author of Peripheral Vision