Poems by Robert McDowell
“This fresh, uncompromising voice will be greeted with cheers by readers who have been turned off by the ornate pretentiousness of so much contemporary poetry. Gifted with a novelistic grasp of exactly what it is like to be a twentieth-century American, Robert McDowell is interested in other people, not just himself.”
Robert McDowell is a genuine poetic innovator, and Quiet Money is his first collection. Rehoning an honoured old form – narrative verse – McDowell’s poems read almost like short stories, yet there is nothing proselike about his manner of expression. Here you will find careful craft and the presence of what Pound called “luminous detail.” In the long title poem, “Quiet Money”, a man flies solo across the Atlantic before Lindbergh, but can’t crow about it because he was merely a flying bootlegger picking up gin in Norway. Full of humour and desperation, these are poems from the middle-class world. “The Liberated Bowler” tells of a woman who can’t find a man able to cope with her talent. There is even a wicked parody of Robert Service, the man who gave narrative poetry such a bad name. As the poet Mark Jarman has written, “With Quiet Money Robert McDowell joins the big three of American narrative poetry – Robinson, Frost and Jeffers. His is an important contribution, not only to poetry but to fiction as well.”
Robert McDowell, a guest lecturer at the University of California at Sant Cruz, is editor and publisher of The Reaper magazine as well as Story Line Press, both devoted to poetry.
After The Money’s Gone
Hector could not help himself
When he thought of kites, meadows, changeable winds.
Like his namesake he could not win.
When he landed a job it was always the same.
He would stick it out for a week or two
Then begin to miss his morning bus.
His boss would spot him in the park,
Red in the face, chugging over hills.
Hector would wind in his skein of string
Like a terminal patient, the pink slip
stuffed in his shirt pocket, and head for home.
His wife was worth half a dozen jobs.
That’s how many he lost before she left him.
“Plant yourself”, his buddy told him over beer.
“Hug your swatch of earth
Like it’s your own skin.
That’s what a woman wants in her man.”
Hector knew if he went home he’d stay up
Watching reruns of shows he didn’t care for.
He thought of going to church,
But the air in church was bad. He knew
If he thought of his wife he’d begin to cry.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover design: by Abby Kagan, photograph courtesy of Culver Pictures
Publication: 1987 (70 pages laminated paperback)