Scratching the Ghost (Paperback)

Poems

By Dexter L. Booth

Graywolf Press, 9781555976606, 88pp.

Publication Date: November 5, 2013

List Price: 15.00*
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Description

Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, selected by Major Jackson

The stub of your left leg dangles
as I hold you up, my hands inserted under your arms
like a child. You are complaining about the itch,
the burn; scratch the ghost of your calf and heel.
—from "Scratching the Ghost"

Dexter L. Booth's ruminations on loss in this award-winning debut are rooted in a time past but one still palpable and persistent. Here are memories of love lost, family mourned, a father absent, ghosts of hometowns and childhood. Here too is a "Short Letter to the Twentieth Century" and, finally, a "Long Letter to the Twentieth Century," as if across this collection the poet is mustering up the force to speak back to history.

"In Dexter Booth's Scratching the Ghost, a cracked egg means the universe is splitting, the slap of a double-dutch rope is a broken-throated hymn, and splitting a squealing hog is akin to lovemaking. These are poems loyal to their own intrepid logic and reckless plausibility. Yet, lest the reader get too giddy in a fun house of mirrors, here, too, are the melodic laments and remarkable lyric passages of a poet who acknowledges the infinite current of melancholy that underlines his journey." —Major Jackson



About the Author

Dexter L. Booth earned an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University. His poems have appeared in Amendment, Grist, New Delta Review, and Willow Springs. He lives in Tempe, Arizona


Praise For Scratching the Ghost: Poems

“After finishing these 96 pages I found myself cut off from some of the best writing I've read in a long time, without a library of work to feed my incessant need for more Dexter Booth. Here's to hoping he comes out with more entrancing work in the near future.” —NewPages

“Booth's first collection exhibits stylistic versatility and thematic range seldom found in first books. . . . This promising young poet joins . . . a new class of writers who interrogate history through intense imagery while questioning the conventions of identity.” —Booklist

“These poems are in the tradition of a very few brilliant first books that are utterly memorable.” —Norman Dubie, author of The Volcano

“It is all here--passion, violence, whisper-tenderness, loss and redemption, in poems remarkable for their vividness and raw power. Booth's Scratching the Ghost meditates on the ways experience and memory shape us and the ways our imagination transforms both. In doing so, he gives new insights into human fragility and courage, into childhood's resilience and the bonds of family. Booth's poems are evocative, often searing, and impossible to read without being changed.” —Beckian Fritz Goldberg, author of Egypt from Space

“In Dexter Booth's Scratching the Ghost, a cracked egg means the universe is splitting, the slap of a double-dutch rope is a broken-throated hymn, and splitting a squealing hog is akin to love-making. These are poems loyal to their own intrepid logic and reckless plausibility. Yet, lest the reader get too giddy in a fun house of mirrors, here, too, are the melodic laments and remarkable lyric passages of a poet who acknowledges the infinite current of melancholy that underlines his journey.” —Major Jackson, Cave Canem Prize judge