What Others Have to Say About DREW
According to Robert Gray, Drew was the book he never intended to write. His brother, who died of a brain tumor at the age of twenty-four, was not someone he wanted to write about, and Robert spent twenty years dodging the inevitable until he found the right poems to tell this story. This novel-in-poems is an elegy, but the back porch kind, told at the cricketing sunset after a few beers by a man who took years to comprehend the complicated knots that siblings make and what kind of loss it takes to undo them. Immediately accessible and always tender-hearted, these down-to-earth poems come from a well-worn place that is raw and true."
—Nickole Brown, author of Sister
A haunting re-collection of the unimaginable. The poet/philosopher remembers an older brother, dead at 24, in this book-length poem. Told in the characteristic flat tone of grief and its truths, Gray's personal epic moves us to acceptance, towards a life well-told.
—Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Emplumada; From the Cables of Genocide:
Poems On Love and Hunger; and DRIVE: The First Quartet
Plunge into this book fully with all your senses alert, the way a teenage boy dives into a lake, and explore the sometimes murky worlds of adolescence, memory, and loss. Robert Gray gives us, in Drew: Poems from Blue Water, a kind of memoir in verse that evokes coming of age in late-seventies and early-eighties Alabama: small towns and lake cabins, football and rock and roll, and, in Gray’s case, losing a brother way too soon. For those who have been there, the smoothly flowing lines of Gray’s poems are like talk after a funeral, the pain of losing a loved one softened and eased by the stories told, the laughter shared. Gray’s distinctive voice, humor, striking imagery, and skillfully woven narrative make this a book you may read in one sitting but will want to come back to and savor.
—Jennifer Horne, author of Bottle Tree and editor of
Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets
An extraordinary sustained meditation on mortality, this book-length poem is determined to reveal how grief affects not only the present and not only the future, but also the past. Boldly straddling the tradition of the prose memoir and the elegy, Gray’s poem opens up the territory that lies between them, and, so doing, creates not only a powerful monument to his lost brother, but an artifact that belongs firmly in the long lineage of mourning.
—T. R. Hummer, author of The Infinity Sessions and Bluegrass Wasteland
To read Robert Gray’s Drew: Poems from Blue Water is to be young on Lake Martin on any summer day. To know health, certitude, and the mythic beliefs of youth—that our older brother is the powerful one, the invulnerable—and then to know the other side—the absolute end of innocence. As I listen to rock-n’-roll lyrics of a young Robert Gray's own composing, snatches of “bawdy” songs of Uncle Jim, escapades of the twenty-something Drew—in ways reminiscent of the endearing prankster Peter Pan, though tan and six feet tall—this reader, despite the troughs of grief, glides across the ski wakes of the poet’s encounters with his own broadening identity, as he honors another's—with blue-water vignettes in this innovative “novel in verse.”
—Bonnie Roberts, author of Dances in Straw with a Two-Headed Calf
and To Hide in the Light