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The Old Masters
by Jeffrey Graessley

 

The Old Masters erects poetic monuments to such great American male writers as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Bukowski and at the same time knocks those grave stones askew with the insertion of poems about Albert Camus, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and -- most surprisingly -- Joan Vollmer, William Burroughs’ wife and (accidental?) victim. Jeffrey Graessley’s poems poignantly articulate the postmodern son’s wish to emulate and embody the best of the modernist father. But that admiration battles with his increasing sense that the great men (and two great women [and one dead wife]) are not parents at all, but siblings – flawed, often addicted creators looking for the same things the poet is: a new way to speak artistically. The poems here delicately enact a struggle that is once mournful, insightful, and timely.

— Stephanie Barbé Hammer, author of How Formal? and Sex with Buildings.