“Dazzlingly alert.” —MARY SZYBIST
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“What is a song but a snare to capture the moment?” This central question drives Crow-Work, Eric 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.

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5.5 × 8.5 × 0.25 in
4.4 oz

Eric Pankey

Eric Pankey is the author of numerous books of poems, most recently Augury and Crow-Work. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared widely in such journals and anthologies as the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and Best American Poetry. He is a professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University and resides in Fairfax, Virginia.

Praise and Prizes

  • “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
  • “Eric 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 Autry
  • “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 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
  • “In this age of both religious extremism and cynical atheism, Eric Pankey’s poems gleam with authenticity. They are prayers sent into the unknown, for ‘one must penetrate the invisible to reside in the visible.’ One of their great pleasures is the door through which Pankey enters the mysteries: the natural world, with which he has profound intimacy. In language that is always elegant, complex, and rigorously truthful, he transfixes us with glimpses of what we can never fully know.”

    Chase Twichell