Through lyrical narrative, the poems in Mandatory Evacuation find radiance in everyday people and subjects by the simple act of noticing—of seeking that which matters most. Like returning home with new eyes after a devastating storm, these poems startle us to awareness, focusing on the passage of time, the beauty of small, fleeting moments, and the importance of paying attention.
I was almost home
when into the headlights ran
a raccoon, then stopped.
Those thuds and what the rearview
held made their way home as well.
“Makuck writes as if the world is a sacred ground worth recording into poetry. His work respects nature and relationships; and if these were the last words left in his heart he could be proud. In Buddhism, the path is said to be, among other, things right speech, right action; and we could complete the precepts by saying right art because if you follow the thread through all the systems in this complex tapestry of people places things, the guiding thread is a merciful conversation. Only a poet deeply mindful could capture sequences, memories and emotions with such optical precision.” —Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books, “November 2016 Exemplars”
“An elegiac aura and, at times, a sense of menace hang over this compelling collection, adding a layer of poignancy—an ‘impossible sweetness’—to the quiet beauty that the poems faithfully achieve. Peter Makuck delights in both the natural and human worlds while at the same time diligently ‘looking for what’s lost’ inevitably in the course of a full life. Mandatory Evacuation is mandatory reading for anyone hungry to encounter a thoughtful lyric lucidity that, thankfully, has not yet been lost in contemporary American poetry.”—Jeffrey Harrison
“As one epigraph to his superb new collection, Makuck cites Cesare Pavese‘s observation that ‘we remember moments, not days,' and it feels impossible to imagine a contemporary poet who evokes, precisely, the moments that give life its texture as keenly as this one. The stunning art of Mandatory Evacuation lies in what at first blush seems its artlessness. So willfully does the poet eschew all look-ma-no-hands ‘poetic’ effect in those evocations that their moving revelations steal upon the reader, who looks up in astonishment, suddenly aware of having been schooled afresh in how to experience the fullness of our world.”—Sydney Lea
“Peter Makuck takes us into meditative space that is both thought and landscape, where we are caught with him in the ‘tight grip of a scene’ visited by the ‘snares of everyday passions.’ In Mandatory Evacuation, perhaps his finest book, a deeply accomplished poet faces memory and mortality, earth, sea, and spirit with the quiet energy of a lyric voyager. Beginning with the wildflowers and enveloping art of France, a stray melody in a blood-red Spanish sunset, and backed by the red-tiled roofs of Greece where a priest relaxes into the ordinary, the poems move to America’s canyons and distances, and finally to ‘Barrier Island,’ the place where two immensities meet, a spiritual home. The journey ends with an admonition to forget intellectual fads and settle for the world, which is holy, and into the dream of the soul, which is poetry and prayer. We need these songs by a hunter—and haunter—of beauty, that old-fashioned joy, and mystery, that necessity.”—Betty Adcock
“The persona emerging from the poems of Mandatory Evacuation observes and is allied to the ‘hunched figure with his hook, / shaped like a question, pole tossed’ into the shiny blackness of the Tar River. The bright metal hook in that wet darkness asks an unknown question and waits for a tug on the line in response. The poet is attentive to place and to signs of the spirit and to the changing weather of his own life (including hurricanes that put a home at risk and lead to the mandatory evacuations of the title). . . . Here are no arbitrary backgrounds, but a strong umbilical line running from narrator to landscape and milieu.”—North Carolina Literary Review
“Peter Makuck’s Mandatory Evacuation is the finest collection of poetry to date by one of America’s most accomplished writers. . . . Throughout this enchanting volume, Makuck dazzles us with his close reading of the world. . . . Mandatory Evacuation is a volume of poetry pinpointing the lyric necessity which informs a good poet’s way of perceiving the world. Makuck’s greatness lies in his ability to render fleeting moments in concrete and accessible images. These are thoughtful lyrics which succeed because of Makuck’s heightened sensitivity to the activity around him. Life and beauty and poignancy are present here as Makuck masters the act of carefully depicting his surroundings.” —The Journal
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2016