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Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57131-454-3
Pages: 88
Publish Date: February 2015
Genre: Poetry



BY Eric Pankey

"What is a song but a snare to capture the moment?" Eric Pankey asks in his new collection, Crow-Work. This central question drives Pankey’s ekphrastic exploration of the moment where emotion and energy flood a work of art. Through subjects as diverse as Brueghel’s Procession to Calvary, Anish Kapoor’s Healing of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio’s series of severed heads, and James Turrell’s experimentation with light and color, the author travels to an impossible past, despite being firmly rooted in the present, to seek out”the songbird in every thorn thicket" of the artist’s work. Short bursts of lyrical beauty burn away”like coils of incense ash," bodies in the light of a cave flicker, coalesce and disappear. By capturing the ephemeral beauty of life in these poems, Crow-Work seeks not only to explain great art, but also to embody it.




From one of the most acclaimed contemporary American poets, a stunning new collection that strives for faith amid great uncertainty.
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Editorial ReviewGoodreads Review

"Eric Pankey’s sensibility is an unerringly generous one: he is always willing to step first onto unsteady ground, to test it for those who might follow. The poems of Crow-Work, like good gleaners, seek out possibility and sustenance. They are skilled, deft, and dazzlingly alert.  Just when I think they have brought me as close as possible to the dark and unknowable things that make awe possible, they bring me closer.  The journey is unnerving, intimate, and thrilling."

—Mary Szybist

"The delicacy and accuracy we have come to expect from Eric Pankey are here on display and as deftly deployed as ever. Pankey remains one of our leading practitioners of the metaphysical poem."

—C. Dale Young

"Pankey's poems, whether lyric or prose, are touching, sincere, and sublime and work well as a whole."

Library Journal

"Pankey is engaged in a meaningful struggle with the elements of the lyric. Faithful to his sensory experience of the world, he affirms an extrasensory totality. Pankey is a powerful poet, and not only because of his engagement: his best poems speak for themselves."

—Michael Autrey

"Eric Pankey is a poet of precise observation and startling particularities. His wisdom, sometimes sidelong, sometimes direct, both knows and feels. The soundcraft is superb, the modes of investigation by turns lyrical, surreal, meditative, allegorical, direct-speaking, and allusive."

—Jane Hirshfield

"The clarity, intellectual heft, structure, poise, formal dexterity, and music. . . Pankey has become a poet of formidable skill and achievement."

—Brian Henry, Verse

“In this age of both religious extremism and cynical atheism, Eric Pankey's poems gleam with authenticity. From his earliest work, his abiding interest has been in probing the place where human consciousness confronts what lies outside of our understanding. In language that is always elegant, complex, and rigorously truthful, he transfixes us with glimpses of what we can never fully know.”

—Chase Twichell

"Like the work of an aerialist (the single figure poised above the crowd) Pankey's poetry seems to issue from the possibilities of heroic isolation. . . . With each new volume I have held my breath to see him not falter in his pursuit of the beautiful."

—Lynn Emanuel


"There is nobility in Eric Pankey's work, a biblical reverence, an Excalibur of respect for coherence in nature. Pankey uses the outer world to balance the truth in his spiritual world. There is sorrow here but we feel little pain, more the ghost of the dream mirroring his own time and watchfulness."

—Washington Independent Review of Books

"Marked by an intriguing dialectic of owning and debt, of fullness and absence, of receptiveness and inability, these intense, thoughtful poems trace an arduous spiritual ‘pilgrimage’ of the highest metaphysical order."

—John Taylor, Antioch Review

"Pankey's voice is elegant, his language as lovely as the images it carries."



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Eric Pankey

Eric Pankey is currently Professor of English and Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. Trace is his ninth collection of poetry.

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