From celebrated poet Eric Pankey, a collection exploring the presence of the divine in the seemingly ordinary.
The ancient Romans practiced augury, reading omens in bird’s flight patterns. In the poems of Augury, revelation is found in nature’s smallest details: a lizard’s quick movements, a tree scarred by lighting, the white curve of a snail’s shell. Here the sensory world and the imagined one collide in unexpected and wonderful ways, as Pankey scrutinizes the physical for meaning, and that meaning for truth.
With uncommon grace, each of Pankey’s precise lyrics advances our shared ontological questions and expresses our deepest contradictions. In a world of mystery, should we focus on finding meaning or creating it? How can the known—and the unknown—be captured in language? “If one cannot see clearly,” Pankey writes, borrowing from Freud, “one at least wants / what is unclear to be in focus.”
Augury is a masterful and magical collection from a poet of stirring intelligence, “a book of stones unstitched from the wolf’s belly.”
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Praise and Prizes
“Reading Augury, I feel as if Eric Pankey were drawing my attention to an experience of human history in such profoundly reverse sensory order that it is ultimately turned entirely soul-ward—by which I mean neither inward nor outward exactly, but toward the condition in which all assumptions can and should be questioned. Gods, ghosts, artists, ruins and the more vivid pleasures of civilization abound, as do the sublime horrors and ecstatic wonders not merely of divination, but of our daily lives: the very mortal acts of breathing, learning, sensing, and feeling. ‘By shadow, I mean something luminescent,’ Pankey writes. Augury is nothing less than a darkly luminous book by a poet at the height of his considerable poetic power, both an achievement and a book to return to again and again.”
“Eric Pankey writes poems that give us back, if not the world, our relation to it—where we can learn from what resists understanding, where even withholding reveals, where the future includes all the past, and though the mind might be obliterated by the light it seeks, it seeks it still, in the ruins and in the orchard.”
“These poems demonstrate an unparalleled command of the lyric and its capacious potential. In poems like dropped stitches, aphoristic sequences, and exquisitely lineated verse, language is placed under pressure to yield its seething dynamism and urgency. Augury a book I will keep close at hand, alongside the best work of Montale, Dickinson, Celan, and Stevens. This is a book one will turn to again and again.”
“Pankey makes the creation of these numinous poems sound remarkably easy. Yet each ethereal image he weaves into his work is delicately curated, whittled down through his attention to sound.”
“Eric Pankey’s poems in Augury manage the almost impossible task of invoking the stillness that exists within movement. This renders the poems marvelously meditative, no matter their topical content, because everything in them is brought to exist in a kind of space between perception and what is perceived, a space made somehow sacred by Pankey’s refusal to privilege one over the other, allowing both to simply be. The result is an unusually quiet and masterful work.”