A spine-tingling collection of terrifically creepy poems about the deadly art of murder.
In poems as various as the colorful melodramas of old Scottish ballads and the hard-boiled poems of twentieth-century noir, Killer Verse rounds up the most colorful villains and victims - from Cain and Abel and Bluebeard to Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Mafia hit men - ever to be immortalized in verse. Browning, Hardy, Auden, Mark Doty, Thom Gunn, Simon Armitage, and Stevie Smith are only a few of the wide range of poets, old and new, whose comic, chilling, and occasionally profound poetic musings on murder are gathered together in this uniquely - irresistibly - heart-stopping collection.
Even for those readers not drawn to the often-gruesome depictions on display here, Killer Verse, like all the Everyman collections, offers an excellent primer on the cornucopia of forms available to poets. The editors have carefully chosen something to appeal to everyone: anonymous murder ballads dating back centuries; the immaculately crafted first person monologues of Victorian poets Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy; Tony Barnstone's contemporary sonnets dedicated to pulp fiction themes; and Philip B. Williams's incendiary tale of a cross-dressing young man who guns down his parents. These are just a few of the pieces that transform the worst qualities that humanity possesses into powerful art. While none of these poems can erase the horrible fact that murder exists, they all testify to poetry's willingness to provoke discomfort in the service of deeper insight. (Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
The chilling topic of filicide (the killing of one's child) casts a shadow over the pages of Killer Verse, as it recurs throughout several sections of the book - most powerfully in Cornelius Eady's "Birthing," a key poem from his cycle, Brutal Imagination, which was inspired by the murder of two young boys by their mother.
For nine days in the fall of 1994, the citizens of Union, South Carolina, as well as an increasing number of people throughout the United States, believed that Susan Smith had suffered the worst tragedy a mother could experience: the abduction of her two sons, Michael (age 3) and Alex (age 14 months), by a mysterious figure who had carjacked her at night on an abandoned road. Media coverage soon expanded from local news outlets to national talk shows and magazines, with Susan and her husband David pleading with the carjacker to safely return their sons. Flyers featuring a vague drawing of the alleged abductor, an African-American man wearing a knit cap, saturated the small, predominantly white, town of Union.
Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class. At its center this is a profoundand profoundly movingexploration of shame, forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
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