Scared Violent Like Horses

Poetry

Scared Violent Like Horses

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“A stunning overlap of a lost boy and lost landscape through the lens of a gifted poet’s magical linguistic and storytelling abilities.” —VICTORIA CHANG
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Selected by Victoria Chang as winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, John McCarthy’s Scared Violent Like Horses is a deeply personal examination of violent masculinity, driven by a yearning for more compassionate ways of being.

McCarthy’s flyover country is populated by a family strangled by silence: a father drunk and mute in the passenger seat, a mother sinking into bed like a dish at the bottom of a sink, and a boy whose friends play punch-for-punch for fun. He shows us a boy struggling to understand pain carried down through generations and how quickly abandonment becomes a silent kind of violence; “how we deny each other, daily, so many chances to care,” and how “we didn’t know how to talk about loss, / so we made each other lose.” Constant throughout is the brutality of the Midwestern landscape that, like the people who inhabit it, turns out to be beautiful in its vulnerability: sedgegrass littered with plastic bags floating like ghosts, dilapidated houses with abandoned Fisher Price toys in the yard, and silos of dirt and rust under a sky that struggles to remember the ground below.

With arresting lyricism and humility, Scared Violent Like Horses attends to the insecurities that hide at the heart of what’s been turned harsh, offering a smoldering but redemptive and tender view of the lost, looked over, and forgotten.

ISBN:
978-1-57131-507-6
Publish Date: 
02/12/2019
Pages: 
88
Size: 
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.31 in
Weight: 
6 oz
Author

John McCarthy is the author of Scared Violent Like Horses, selected by Victoria Chang as winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, and Ghost Country, named a Best Poetry Book of 2016 by the Chicago Review of Books. He serves as an editor of RHINO magazine and the Quiddity international literary journal and public radio program.

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