2012 - Paperback
William (Kit) Hathaway's eighth book of poems is a collection of recent poems that respond to Cavafy's statement about taking a stand: "Che fece...Il gran rifiuto." This is the work of a mature poet, looking out at the world and fearlessly describing what he sees.
"Ever since The Gymnast of Inertia in 1982, I have read Kit Hathaway’s poems with great pleasure and envious admiration. With eight books to his credit, he’s long overdue for a volume of selected poems, but how to choose? The poems are all so strong and compelling. This is what you get when you set a lively, restless mind loose in the world—he tells it like you hadn’t previously realized it was. He has all the poet’s essential tools: an alert eye, an acute ear, and a love of setting words to dancing down the page. His jazz riffs packed with edgy, unexpected insights, which leap from minute observations to metaphysical speculations and back again, are laced with his outraged bafflement at the human condition and the conventional explanations thereof. He can turn the question of when to pour hot tar on a country road into word play on the old theological question of works versus faith. For when he’s at his most serious he’s often hilarious. His poems thrive on his sardonic wit and his astonishing range of references, from the nitty gritty to the erudite. His latest book, The Right No, is set mainly in Maine. Not surprisingly, the natural world figures prominently and the book’s longest part is entitled “Creatures.” Up in the Maine woods he’s at home in the natural world, but ill-at-ease in the presence of some of its predators. And what he sees, he wants you to see, too: “I have seen this, and all / that’s wanted for you to see / such things is to stop and watch.” And what a seer he is. Take, for example, “a ghosting cup of tea,” or “a fat, corpse-pale spider,” or “bubble-gum pink granite.” But if you’re someone who spends too much time “thumbing / into a gizmo” beware. Even though his poems flow smoothly down the page, they are not to be rushed through, each line matters, and things are far more subtle than you might first imagine. He keeps asking big questions while focusing by turns on all things great and small: “The moon moves seas / that make winds that slide clouds, so in / a sudden shiver we sometimes wonder / what first finger jogged the toggle? So / to speak.” Quite simply, Kit Hathaway is one of the finest poets of his generation, and, as such, a writer to be treasured.
-William Heath, Writer of Devil Dancer
“William Hathaway’s poems are as compassionate, hard-hitting, and uncompromising as any being written. It’s grown-up writing for grown-up readers, in the deepest sense.” - Albert Goldbarth
“These new poems are judgments, wild, human, and of limitless mind. The Establishment’s dowagers and eunuchs will not read this book. It should be saved from them. Hathaway is a great American poet.” - Norman Dubie
“When I finish reading a poem by Hathaway I feel smarter than I was before, not, as with most poems, stupider. . . . Hathaway has a rare intelligence, and when he writes he uses it—which is even rarer. May he be showered with blessings.”
- Hayden Carruth