Author: Ray McManus
Softcover (ISBN: 978-1-938235-07-8 )
Ray McManus’s third book of poetry, Punch., is a call for the claw-hammer, a hymn to the steel toe, and a series of lonely missives from truck cabs and office cubicles.
Publication Date: Oct 2014
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.
Ray McManus’s third book of poetry, Punch., is a call for the claw-hammer, a hymn to the steel toe, and a series of lonely missives from truck cabs and office cubicles. Punch. is a book about work, about the will that rises and the dust that falls. It is about being “lost, hungry, and hopeless, creeping toward the pipelines in a '78 Buick Regal with Big Star on the radio.” Sometimes angry, sometimes darkly funny, these lean and muscular poems explore the world of punching in and punching out, the punch-drunk and the sucker-punched. Whether the poems are tightened by the rhythm of a hard hand, or the lines sprawl across the page with swagger, there is real music here. Brute voices, contemplative and haunting, speak to us with unwavering self-conflict and salty confidence. In these poems, life is a struggle and the end is already written, but there's something deeply moving about the resilience and resistance of these voices: “Lunch won't be here / for another hour,” one says, “so when the rain / comes, it is welcome.”
"Former Poet Laureate, Philip Levine once said we write what we are given. Just as Levine was given industrial Detroit and James Wright was given rural Ohio, Ray McManus was given an American South where 'Every day is the bottom of a bucket. Every day is slide guitar,' where 'blistered hands, hearts, and tongues, give way to callus, the need to alter, to repair.' What Ray McManus has given us in return is Punch.: a tough, tenderhearted, phenomenal work about work. These are poems of lucid witness. Let us give thanks."
—Terrance Hayes, National Book Award winner for Lighthead
"'Addition is easy,' McManus writes, and he means money in a day-worker's pocket, a lonesome man meeting his lover in an empty parking lot, the handful of bent nails a carpenter can't use, he means the grease and gears and rust and sweat and spit of a working-class life. This is a collection of poems written in the spirit of Levine's What Work Is, whose song is all hard knocks and hard-won knowledge. Its sections are named after blue-collar works shifts, which is fitting--as Punch does the important work of honoring first shifts, swing shifts, graveyard shifts, and hours and days off between them."
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men
McManus is the winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize and Marick Press Prize in Poetry.