Brick Road Poetry Press

Praise for Etch and Blur

The heartening poems in Jamie Thomas’ Etch and Blur really get at America by eschewing reverse cultural generalizations and getting to the grit and ironies that defy nationality; it really affirms how indispensible poetry is to a life bombarded and overstimulated by directives, aesthetic pretentions, wired information and glib competing ideas of how it is we are supposed to make our lives and our poetry current and relevant.  Forget such entitlements: Thomas KNOWS bad tv, pink slips, automotive disrepair, stalled-out bars, smeared urban starlight.  He un-privileges pop-freedom, which in our poetry has in so many ways become opportunistic—and puts us back in traffic.  His humor, not trendy or derisive, but consoling, backs into pockets of compassion, one imagination at a time.  With an undeterred syntax that—to rephrase Stevens—almost resists the rhapsodic successfully.  A flat-out knock out debut, this book helps me see another’s life and restores me to my own.

–William Olsen

Jamie Thomas writes a poetry of Experience, of how to deal with The Fall from American precocity; Thomas’s speaker is full of effervescent wit and wise-guy mouthiness, the velocity of youth, but nonetheless is bound to the wheel of gravity and limitation, of death and necessity.

In fact, the poems in Etch and Blur are much like carnival rides, which whirl the passenger around and around, higher, then lower, through perspective after perspective–yet, when they deliver you back to earth, you find yourself paradoxically sober. Wry, many-eyed, dogged, and tender, these poems artfully embody an earnest, struggling heart inside a wry and dexterous mind.

–Tony Hoagland

It’s easy to overstate the relevance of a book’s title to the poems, but here, Etch and Blur speaks to Jamie Thomas’ engaging tendency to stake out a territory and then doubt the validity of the claim. The poems aren’t static but move lithely between holding and letting go, order and mess, suggesting his driving interest is the difficulty of sifting through consciousness for what is genuine in any moment. “This is honesty being created, like a billboard, / which is different from truth, truth exists / whether we create it or not.” His desire to believe in something is matched by his need for the belief to be earned. When he asks, “Have we been railroaded further and further from meaning / or have we circled it, datelined, / and grown actually closer to the truth?”, there’s no sense of rhetoric in this, the question feels personal and large and animating. This is a lively and surprising book.

–Bob Hicok



Waywiser Press



The Michigan Poet


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