Saltwater Empire (Paperback)
Coffee House Press, 9781566892131, 121pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
I know the occurrence of objects
in this climate. Even music, if left
to our weather, will warp within days.
Conceived in the years before Hurricane Katrina and deeply influenced by its aftermath, Saltwater Empire is a brilliant assemblage of geographical metaphor expressed in original lyrics, text from The Tempest, and the voices of New Orleans:
I come from all over New Orleans. What I feel needs to be said
about this is that everything was done wrong.
As Raymond McDaniel's poems enter the ecological, political, and religious miasma of the Gulf Coast, their moral, philosophical, and literary complexity offer an uncommonly perceptive look at cataclysmic disaster, human cruelty, and cultural resilience.
God help us we tried to stay shattered but we just got better.
We grew adept, we caught the fish as they fled.
We skinned the fish, our knife clicked like an edict.
We were harmed, and then we healed.
Raymond McDaniel is the author of the National Poetry Series award-winning collection Murder (a violet). A Floridian, McDaniel now lives in Ann Arbor, teaches at the University of Michigan, hosts the reading series at Shaman Drum Bookshop, and writes for The Constant Critic.