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Ragged Anthem displays the same inimitable voice and unflinching gaze that made Chris Dombrowski a Poetry Foundation bestseller and silver medal winner of Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year Award in poetry. His work has been celebrated by renowned writers such as Jim Harrison and Alicia Ostriker, who have called his books (respectively) “extraordinarily powerful and graceful” and “one of the most beautiful books of poetry I’ve read in years.”
As in Dombrowski’s previous books, in Ragged Anthem the natural world is as alive and as fully realized as language allows. His comfort with the naming of the world, combined with a life lived intimately with the other species that populate the landscape of home, suggest an authenticity that few can claim. Ragged Anthem is a demonstration in continued poetic growth and expanded terrain. Written from the speaker’s midlife, the poems delve into the transformation of family, childhood tragedies, and politics. Dombrowski lifts the veil on the imbecilic bureaucracies-those on Capitol Hill and in the faculty meetings occurring in our own conference rooms-that often help to whittle our fates. The book contains well-placed and evocative allusions to such figures as American painter Mark Rothko and Saint Francis of Assisi, as well as the periodic highlighting of language from contemporary song lyrics. These “borrowings” set forth a conversation between the poet and other artists that evoke the original source while transforming it into something new, proving that words, although artifice, live within our bodies, changing our relationship to place.
Ragged Anthem makes a powerful and important contribution to contemporary poetry. Fans of Dombrowski’s past works and newcomers alike will bask in the poet’s firm yet relaxed approach to the shaping of language.