The Gilded Auction Block

Farrar. Nov. 2018. 112p. ISBN 9780374162252. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780374720322. POETRY
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, McCrae (In the language of my captors) again tackles many heated current sociopolitical issues, embarking on the daring task of writing a poetry of engagement without turning into a sentimental propagandist. Using precise and direct language, he articulates a response to these issues and suggests a new sensibility defining our shared humanity. Yet as he engages critically with reality, bitterness and sarcasm lurk in most of the poems: "my tears met yours in the ditch/ America they carry me downstream." The core theme here is human pathos in times of ethical anxiety, as McCrae forthrightly explores discrimination, political corruption, justice, falsification of language, and the distortion of truth by the powerful. Poetry and politics go hand in hand to frame a dialog and to highlight the role of the poet as a witness to his time and place with a profound testimonial power.
VERDICT McCrae writes about his public concerns in poetically sharp and moving poems devoid of cliché and polemics. Recommended for all poetry readers.

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