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The Earliest Witnesses

G.C. Waldrep

Cover of The Earliest Witnesses by G.C. Waldrep
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Categories: 21st Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Jan 2021)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • This is how the witness ends: touch, withdraw; touch again.

    'American Goshawk', the opening poem in this collection, concludes with these words. The word 'witness' comes with a wealth of meanings. The poems are, at one level, acute observations of the world in its physical and dramatic detail. But eye and ear detect, in what is there, shadows and figures of what is beyond, what imparts to the things perceived their deeper form, significance and beauty. Such seeing is a craft, a form of translation that engages not just the surface but the essence of what is seen, what the poet calls 'eye-proofs of the epiphenomenal world'. The ophthalmologist in 'A Mystic’s Guide to Arches' keeps asking, 'Can you see this?' And we can, seeing it more fully each time we re-read the poem and the separate things configure into a single, powerful seeing. Language obscures - until it releases what it names to the senses.

    The Earliest Witnesses is G.C. Waldrep's British debut.
    G.C. Waldrep is the author most recently of the collection feast gently (Tupelo, 2018), winner of the 2019 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a long poem, Testament (BOA Editions, 2015). Waldrep's poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, APR, Paris Review, New England Review, New American ... read more
    'These are poems that read like meditations... This is a wonderful book that speaks of noticing, reflecting, of spirituality.'

    The Alchemy Spoon

    'Waldrep's poetry is excellent, from its startling images ("winter's blue throat") to its percussive music ... there are the moments when, between two febrile medication-dreams or images of the landscape, Waldrep calmly drops in a plain account of his emotional state, and it pulls your heart out of your throat. "I was no longer in love with my life, or with anyone's." It has been many years now since I walked by the sea/ I would not describe myself as unhappy/ Only devastated".'

    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

    'It is a rare thing to encounter a poet whose world one might wish to fully inhabit, or a new book of poems that seems to offer such density and range that it should, by rights, be read and re-read over a considerable time ... a collection of such poise and penetrating attentiveness to the world that it demands an equal attentiveness from the reader.'

    Sean Hewitt, The Irish Times 


    'Waldrep's poems sing with a metaphysics and lyricism that is distinctly original and fiercely sublime.'

    Publishers Weekly

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