Heard-Hoard

ALICE FAY di CASTAGNOLA AWARD from THE POETRY SOCIETY OF AMERICA

Recognized for his ‘wildly original’ poetry and his ‘uncanny and unparalleled ability to blend lyric and narrative,’ Atsuro Riley extends and deepens here his uncommon mastery and tang. In Heard-Hoard, Riley has ‘razor-exacted’ and ‘raw-wired’ an absorbing new sequence of poems, a vivid weavework rendering and remembering an American place and its people.

At once an album of tales and portrait gallery and soundscape, ‘inscritched’ dirt-mural and hymnbook, Heard-Hoard encompasses a chorus of voices, shot through as they are with their (mostly human) histories and their mysteries, their ‘old appetites as chronic as tides.’ From the crackling story-man calling us together in the primal circle to Tammy figuring ‘time and time that yonder oak,’ Atsuro Riley’s new collection is a profound evocation of lives and loss and lore, ‘a lit meat-mesh of heards.’


"A superb book about people attempting to make a life together in America."

"The demotic and the literary, the arcane and the ordinary, the ancient and the invented give Riley's work the range it needs to house his vision and his voices."

"This book is crucial to contemporary American poetry because it shows a lyric poet of unique formal gifts doing something we'd usually expect from a great novelist—exploring and rendering our striving to give shape and meaning to our lives together—all while maintaining the force and subtlety of his lyric gift."
PETER CAMPION, The Adroit Journal

"Intoxicating. . .Sounds unheard and unrivaled since Atsuro Riley’s acclaimed debut permeate Heard-Hoard. His elegant rhythms are atmospheric and robust, his neologisms transform the “weed-embrangling snuffle-path,” his vernacular is magical as “dew-sparks galaxifying the crabgrass.” Amid each mesmerizing reading, like dancing to a good song for a good long time before truly hearing its lyrics, Heard-Hoard’s remarkable stories crystallize; music becomes narrative. Atsuro Riley is an extraordinary poet. This book is oral, aural and neural in ways I continue to absorb . . .it holds all the meanings of fantastic."
TERRANCE HAYES
"Magnificently singular. If evocation of place, however pungent, were the main thing in Riley’s work I wouldn’t be very interested. But he’s pursuing something a lot more ambitious, even abstract, that has deeply to do with, I almost want to say, sacred properties of language or language that could cast a spell against harm. He needs to make big sense; he has the deep confidence it takes to press language hard —not for self-amusement but to hear something he is desperate to hear."
KAY RYAN
"The category of the “mythic” has been much cheapened by overuse, but Atsuro Riley’s Heard-Hoard restores the term to its original and originary power. The English language has rarely been so richly augmented in such little space."
LINDA GREGERSON
"A landscape charged with the bright light of discernment, where emotions are stirred by rhythmic torsion and sonic density."
JULIE CARR
"The essential collection of our moment—what we've needed most without knowing it."
JESSE NATHAN, McSweeney's
"One of the most exciting books of poetry I've read in my life."
MICHAEL SILVERBLATT, Bookworm
"Haunting. . .Riley's oeuvre breaks new lyric ground with its singular style. This rich, polyphonic collection will keep readers entranced."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"The collection calls us back to the roots of language, breaking it apart and putting it back together."
PLOUGHSHARES
"Riley captures the accents of his hardscrabble world through language worked to a country eloquence."
POETRY FOUNDATION