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Constant Critic calls TROUBLE THE WATER a book that moves 'profoundly'

In a rich and thorough new review from The Constant Critic, reviewer Ray McDaniel calls Derrick Austin’s A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize-winning Trouble the Water "the book of poetry that moved me the most profoundly in 2016."

He says, "While much of that power derives from its effortless and unapologetic beauty, it moves me mainly by virtue of being sad. Sadness, too, is one of those things that remains meaningful even when its more elaborated or elevated forms eclipse that core: grief, mourning, despair. . . . Austin’s poems are bounded by conditions of extremity, but unfold, with delicacy and in repose, between those conditions."

Taking a comprehensive look at various poems within the book, the review focuses particularly on Austin's love of beauty, and the care with which he treats it in his poetry. 

"It’s certainly possible to believe that depictions of crimes . . . and of the people who bear their costs, deserve beauty even if the crimes themselves are ugly. What Austin practices, though, and what his poems convince me to believe, is that any refusal to see or make what loveliness you can faithlessly degrades the very thing you hope to preserve. To that end, the beauty isn’t something you impose, but rather something you are merciful and loyal enough to allow.

"But what is braver, more true, more completely human than refusing to renounce who you are by refusing to renounce how you perceive and make, how you find the Lord in the crushed, colored stones? How you find Him even the grass, which all flesh is, and of which Austin has found a way to weave a glory both mortal and everlasting."

Click here to read the full Constant Critic review.

For more information on Trouble the Water, visit the BOA Bookstore.


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