This debut collection by Cave Canem fellow Geffrey Davis burrows under the surface of gender, addiction, recovery, clumsy love, bitterness, and faith. The tones explored—tender, comic, wry, tragic—interrogate male subjectivity and privilege, as they examine their “embarrassed desires” for familial connection, sexual love, compassion, and repair. Revising the Storm speaks to the sons and daughters affected by the drug/crack epidemic of the ’80s and addresses issues of masculinity and its importance in family.
Some nights I hear my father’s long romance
with drugs echoed in the skeletal choir
of crickets. At each approach, a silence
cuts in. And I wonder which part speaks more
to this dance with addiction: the frailty of concord
or the hard certainty of the coda’s chain?
I know these are only insects being insects,
merely a strumming of lust into the heavy,
summer air. Still, something in me asks for
a new piece of music to yoke to his cravings—
perhaps just the need to shuffle off and sing
my own restlessness back to sleep.
I want him to be beautiful again.
He fucked us over— he did, but breakdown
diminishes everyone. Let me decide
that he never lied or stole more than necessary.
“Revising the Storm is one of the best first books I’ve read in a good while. Its subjects—childhood, an absentee father, marriage, divorce, re-marriage, birth—are not new, but the approach is fresh, the language lyrical, and the poems well-tuned and masterfully wrought. Geffrey Davis is spellbinding. Like a fine artist, he knows how to bring even the smallest heartbreaking detail to light.” —Dorianne Laux
“Geffrey Davis translates and transforms our contemporary modes of love, violence and history. Revising the Storm feels written by a poet who has traversed several previous lives and honed them into a language of beautiful survival. Urgent, tender, imaginative: this is a tremendous debut.” —Terrance Hayes
“Geffrey Davis interrogates masculinity— as brother, son, father, lover—to examine the sources of love’s enduring and failed aspects ... I admire Davis’s emotional vocabulary, his attentive generosity and tenderness. Keep your eye on this gifted newcomer.” —Robin Becker
“Thematically, Davis hits some strong subjects: missing fathers, marriage and divorce, early years and rebirth, all painful twists of reality and even sentimentality that make families too close for comfort yet often beyond reach … Davis’s poems are sweeping, lyrical glimpses into masculinity, violence, drug use, and history.” —Booklist
“Acutely aware of myriad meanings to each assertion and of the many versions of each story, these poems are strongest where they push through poetic narrative about personal experience to create poetry where storytelling itself is subverted … Continuously challenging himself to ‘[t]ell it right this time,’ Davis displays an elegant tenacity that begs to be unleashed on subjects beyond personal history.” —Publishers Weekly
“Never prosaic but always knowable, the collection is in itself a storm that passes slowly but never disappears entirely … It is a feat for Davis to create so much tenderness here without being precious. All his subjects, even the loathsome ones, are beloved. All his speakers are filled with hope, always seeking a new definition for humane, constantly revising the storms inside themselves.” —The Rumpus
One of five “sizzling books you must slip into your travel bag this summer.” —Amtrak, National Railroad Passenger Corporation
“A mother crying alone in her kitchen, a hungry boy unable to sleep in his bed, the unbearable weight cast by an absent father—these quotidian and universal miseries are by no means exclusive to the world of poetry, but when rendered in verse by a talented poet such as Davis, readers bare witness with new eyes. Revising the Storm is a considerable collection replete with the dark troubles and misfortunes of life that only serve to make its moments of beauty that much brighter.” —LA Review
“This is a book of poems for those who believe in the cathartic power of poetry and its ability to render meaning from pain. Despite its lagging moments, Revising the Storm succeeds at transforming loss and grief into something worth sharing, and beyond any discussion of Davis’s romantic conceits or clever self-reflexivity, doesn’t that matter more? After all, if poetry can’t save us from our suffering, what can?” —Zone 3