ABOUT JOEL PECKHAM
||Dr. Joel B. Peckham, Jr., is an Assistant Professor of American Literature at The University of Cincinnati, Clermont College. A scholar of American Literature and a creative writer as well as a former Fulbright Scholar, Joel's reviews, essays, scholarly articles, and poetry have been published in numerous journals throughout The United States and Canada, including American Literature, Ascent, The Black Warrior Review, The Literary Review, The Malahat Review, The Mississippi Quarterly, The North American Review, Passages North, River Teeth, The Sycamore Review, The Southern Review,Texas Studies in Language and Literature, Under the Sun and Yankee Magazine. Poems have also appeared in Contemporary Poetry of New England (UP of New England) and Poets Against the War (Nation Press). Nightwalking, his first full-length poetry collection, was published by Pecan Grove Press in 2001. He is also co-founding editor of the on-line literary journal, Milkwood Review and an associate editor for GCSU's national literary journal, Arts and Letters. You can see more of Joel Peckham's work at http://www.joelpeckham.com. His latest book from Pecan Grove Press is the heat of what comes. Joel has a new chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2010.
He currently lives with his son, Darius, in Batavia, OH
the heat of what comes
by Joel B. Peckham, Jr.
"As if guided by William Matthews’s 'Love needs to be set alight again and again,' Joel Peckham struggles to center the heart, teach it to persevere through the living fog that envelopes in the heat of what comes. Poems detail journeys where one place is like another and lives that are 'broken beyond repair.' Never peripheral to experience, Peckham’s poems show us how to find 'a room in the fog' where there are flashes of hope, flashes of light. Exploring contradictions that remind us we must live without closure, aware of the isolation inherent in being human, Peckham urges us to celebrate rare moments of communion like one he has listening to music of a deaf guitar player. Describing rain ticking away hours on a tin roof, he refuses to be swallowed by dailiness as he urges us to touch, 'place a hand on the shaking shoulder. Give a damn.' Intense and compelling, the heat of what comes is a vivid and hard-edged collection because Peckham’s poems are solid, because they are true. —Vivian Shipley
"In the heat of what comes, Joel Peckham has written a survival guide to America. In poem after poem, each filled with an onslaught of hard knocks, hard asses, hard times, and hard edges to everything, we are all but hurled through the culture’s overwhelming plurality of attacks on the heart. Peckham, in poems that feel as if they have been formed in an open hearth of the imagination, makes us realize that it truly is a wonder we make it through a day. Whitman saw the possibility for this place called the United States. Ginsberg inherited this vision and proclaimed the states disunited. Now Joel Peckham follows. He stares at what’s left. His grief is searing. Yet he leads us through. He refuses to turn away from his own and our devastation. But he also refuses to turn away from all that keeps blooming." —Jack Ridl
And Joel Peckham's first book, also from Pecan Grove Press:
"Joel Bishop Peckham in his first book of poems gives his readers
the sound of Something with the hideous grace of the wounded
but alive, something both mortal and immortal, which isas
we all recognizenothing less than human art."
Hilda Raz, Editor of Prairie Schooner and
author of Divine Honor
from the heat of what comes by Joel B. Peckham, Jr.
Asleep at the Wheel
We must love each other or die—Auden
I’m driving home from Atlanta, down 441—an unlit
stretch of highway winding through lakes and fields,
and I am fighting sleep—on the radio
someone explains the reasons for war.
I think of the photographs on CNN—gaunt Afghanis,
Palestinians. Kids—staring out the bombed-out shells
of their bodies. Wide awake, too awake with hunger
and fear. As a boy I remember most the dark unblinking
glitter of the eyes of fish—a rich obsidian depth that reached
back and down like canyons off Rockland—gleaming
with moving water and the reflections of leaves,
of quahog shells, of bright stones and the caught
gleam of sunlight in a torn can—or the gaze of anyone
leaning over the hull so far he almost tumbles into
gravity, longing, the deadly bliss
of children. Like too small fish shaken from trawl-nets
at pre-dawn, my sons flicker in oncoming beams
and disappear—the darkness slides across them,
takes them, throws them back into light again. And again,
I’m holding the baby against me; his first illness and
I’m terrified. His skin kindles mine—a gull caught
in old netting. His flail and scream against a sinking
down, a falling out of the world. In the distance,
the town sleeps and dreams of small things, grasses bend
and rise again in river-water the way the head of a young boy
strapped upright in a car will loll and jerk back, loll—
a rhythmic, sickly dance that’s hard to look at, too fragile
and human—like eyelids fluttering on a field of white
and the deep rich blackness of irises wide in sleep. I bite
my lip. There are no shoulders, no medians. We are
so near, and hurtling by each other
at great speed.
And what was the name again
of the desert saint who, starving, came upon a vision
of a lion feasting on his own leg. Or a lamb, or
the saint himself. I can’t remember, but it seems
from Nightwalking by Joel B. Peckham, Jr.
Im walking out into the town
Ive never visited, down a darkened street
Ive traveled all my life. Where lamp lights
burn on one by one, possum skitter out
on cool tar in a night become a blanket of heat
and soundcicadas, the suffering of crickets,
houses swelled with sleepa trembling
in and out, child-breath, leaf-shudder. It is getting late.
And more dangerous. It cant be helped.
Every child knows there are no safe places
any longer. Even here, under the blanket,
in a town I form with every step. With every
breath. I watch the possum, cornered
by my shadow, back up against a wall
and scream like an infant,
then break for shelter.