BOOKS

Magpies in the Valley of Oleanders (Trio House 2016)

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Winner of the 2016 Trio House Open Competition

“I am stunned by Kyle McCord’s Recklessness and Light.  In its confident specificity, in its catalogue of terror and beauty, we find not just an invitation to the proverbial ups and downs of the human experience, but an inroads to our own sense of self and devotion and how we fit into the world.  This is not just a book of poetry, but an essential entry in the world’s encyclopedia of irredeemable sorrow and profound, revelatory truth.”

—Nick Courtright, Author of Let There Be Light

 

Kyle McCord’s Recklessness and Light sets the wild clamor of the sublime to the musical measure of the lyric, that “muscular alchemy.” Images chime, fractal-like, across scale, allowing something as small as a knee to contain a “galaxy / of fragile nerves” and something as momentous as our world to become “a tiny orb.” These leaps and inversions of scope dizzy the reader into the fantastic drunkenness of seeing the world anew, its offerings and its consequences. “I know material life / is the illusion,” he writes, and, like the speaker who says, “when I dove into the water, / I was not me anymore,” the reader who dives into McCord’s poems is transformed. This above all speaks to McCord’s “unthinkable level / of control,” but control, here, isn’t demonstrated through limitations; rather, it knows when and where and how far to range and wander.

—Emilia Phillips, Author of Signaletics

 

In these wide-ranging and beautiful poems, Kyle McCord considers the intersections of art, politics and lived experience, his perceptions of one always broadening and deepening the others.  Here, an encounter with a fox cub emerging from a cellar becomes a meditation on violence, mercy, and aesthetic control.  Poems beginning in works of visual arts are far too restless to remain there, casting always outwards into often harrowing narratives of family, history, visual beauty, and the certainty of mortality.  Unfailingly skillful, ventriloquistic, and sonically complex, Kyle McCord’s poems are not just engaging.  They are distinguished by an imagination that is at once startling and deeply humane.

—Kevin Prufer, Author of Churches

 

You Are Indeed an Elk, But This Is Not the Forest You Were Born to Graze (Gold Wake Press 2015)

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Kyle McCord’s You Are Indeed an Elk, but This Is Not the Forest You Were Born to Graze consists of thirty single-stanza wonders of the world-ferociously associative, disjunctively digressive, and melodiously surprising wherever they roam. Their acro-battery blasts of talky power are rich with joy and pathos, not to mention also an abiding, and sometimes biting, ambivalence toward both the meadow of contemporary American culture and “the unspeakable acts of kindness/ we committed together.” This is a wonderfully tricked-out barrage of a book, the “wild life” in “wildlife,” and especially for you.

–Matt Hart, author of Sermons and Lectures

 

Both Blank and Relentless I love the roaming and attentive eye through which we are invited to experience Kyle McCord’s new book, You Are Indeed an Elk, but This Is Not the Forest You Were Born to Graze. Here are poems at once mystic, intimate, hilarious, and completely enamored with the impossible world–“the smoothest crest / of skyline smirked by a river / without a single thing to lose / itself inside” is just one way this book amazingly imagines living and loving with others. I too, feel that some days “decorum may be all I have.” Thank God this book reminds me that I’m wrong.

–Wendy Xu, author of You Are Not Dead

 

In this, Kyle McCord’s fourth collection, someone is always doing something ill-advised. There’s both trespassing (going where you shouldn’t) and trespassing (doing what you shouldn’t, or “sinning”– a word that has its etymological roots in archery: sinning as “missing the mark.” In other words, the “sinner” has tried to do right and failed). I’ve come to admire characters/ speakers/ real actual people who live bravely enough to sin in that kind of way. And McCord’s speaker is heroic as he journeys, slaughters, and devotes himself to potentially dangerous love affairs. I find this book’s title unusually helpful: “Sure, you’re a an elk, but you’re not supposed to be doing that otherwise acceptable elk-thing here!” which, of course, my brain translates to “Sure, you’re a human, and you’re trying to be good at that by doing things you know humans do, but don’t do it that way!” So. What I’m saying is that this book is wondering how to live rightly. I wonder that all the time, so I’m glad someone as thoughtful and inventive as Kyle McCord is wondering with me.

-Hannah Gamble, author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast

 

Sympathy from the Devil (Gold Wake Press 2013)

Sympathy from the Devil at Amazon.com

Praise for Sympathy from the Devil

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In Kyle McCord’s new book Gabriel empathizes, the Devil sympathizes, and an exhausted God watches a televangelist. Moving, imaginative and full of surprising turns, McCord’s poems are alive with both the world and the dead who “have no word for intimate, and a thousand words for blind.” I love the abundance of these poems, their humor, the music that made my ears howl and purr. When I dream about McCord’s poems dreaming of me, I ride an aging mechanical bull, werewolves take over the city, Abraham Lincoln begs to rip off my blouse, God’s love vanishes into my body like bread. I wake up hungry, afraid, laughing.

–Traci Brimhall, Author of Our Lady of the Ruins

 

In Kyle McCord’s mercurial and visionary new book, Sympathy from the Devil, we see a bold refiguring of the moral imagination that, like a Dante without a Beatrice, wanders hell bereft of the traditional compass that would clarify the archetypes.  Here the eye opens wide its compassion in the dark.  Play transgresses and so, in opposition to the self-servitude of sublimity and rapture, sheds light on cruelties and exclusions suffered in the name of the ideal.  Everywhere we look in this book, we find the generosity and precision of paradox.  The pleasure of absurdity may distance heartbreak, but it likewise binds us to it, such that the poet’s lightness of touch and ranginess of sensibility becomes indistinguishable from his vision, the sense that one half of sympathy is always the embrace, the other the letting go.  A stunning collection.

–Bruce Bond, Author of The Visible

 

 

“What do you want from any of us, reader?” asks the first poem in Kyle McCord’s Sympathy from the Devil, bristling a bit, cocking its chin, letting us know that what follows will never be exactly what we expect. The book brims with wily intelligence and unsettling humor that challenge and surprise and thrill and move us so that in the end what we want is everything this terrific book has to give.

—Corey Marks, Author of The Radio Tree

 

Informal Invitations to a Traveler (Gold Wake Press 2011)

Informal Invitations to a Traveler at Amazon.com

Praise for Informal Invitations to a Traveler

Informal Invitation to a Traveler is an epistolary exchange that exists uniquely apart from conventions of time and place. Alternately spare and lavish, a ghost narrative emerges of correspondences, echoes, and distances—raising questions of travel and renewal, home and seasons, abandonment and flight. With charm and intelligence, Hoag’s and McCord’s poems speak to each other, at each other, with and without each other. They are lively, keen, restless. They envision among the “rubbles of the cities” the possibility of a “home that lasts.”

James Haug

Part baedeker, part intimate murmur, the poems in Informal Invitation to a Traveler suggest that identity itself is a kind of collaboration, a murky alchemy of thought, image, and language. At these poetic intersections, we find two voices bewitched by their own and one another’s incongruities. What emerges is a dazzling study of perception: “How in one town we might be burning the monster,/and the next find ourselves listening to tides.”

Kara Candito

“The bridge of two voices across a landscape–one gorgeous, effusive, and intimate, the other stark and sorting. And the landscape? Flecked with small berries, nodes of sweetness, and hard weather, hard ground, and mazes of pretty but harming brambles. As you wake up here, poem by poem, Hoag and McCord invite you to consider what it means to let oneself wander and how much is enough. Evoking by turns whimsy, resolve, and dread, this is a terrific collaboration.”

Joe Hall

Galley of the Beloved in Torment (Dream Horse Press 2008)

Winner of 2008 Orphic Book Prize

Galley of the Beloved in Torment at Dream Horse Press

Praise for Galley of the Beloved in Torment

“Kyle McCord’s Galley of the Beloved in Torment bears the standard of les poètes maudits, the accursed poets, of Rimbaud, Corbière, Mallarmé, et al., and of their forefather Baudelaire. Like the speaker in many of McCord’s poems, these fin-de-siècle poets thrive in the outskirts, fingering the hem of society, free to witness her unraveling. Although McCord wrote Galley of the Beloved in Torment some 125 years after this time, his book parades the same Decadent style, a style indicative of high sentence, sensuality, social deviance, and the bizarre, to name a few, but enough to stoke our, as Marlow said inHeartofDarkness,’fascinationoftheabomination.'”
Ezekiel Black

“Kyle McCord is a wickedly lavish poet. His scope is broad, his syllables exactingly chosen. The Galley of the Beloved in Torment brings us the pleasure of fable, the ‘hot breath of one rock on another,’ the spectacle of life transformed.”
Noy Holland

“Kyle McCord delicately folds promises, prophecies, laments, lists and directives into poems that exhibit both high mastery and intense earnestness. Lines shift and vary in unpredictable ways, as do the poems’ speakers, who observe, summon, question, caution, and – above all else – morph. The line between man’s best and beast repeatedly blurs. The personal terrifyingly melts into the global in an intimate overlay. Galley of the Beloved in Torment is not love poetry, nor political poetry, nor philosophical poetry; it is all those at once, slippery and sly yet hardhitting in a fantastic(al) blend.”
YZ Chin


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