Cover Image: No Charity in the Wilderness

No Charity in the Wilderness

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Member Reviews

<B>The Publisher Says</B>: <I>No Charity in the Wilderness</I> is a book of poetry focused on the Great Basin and on the Mexican/American border, along with family and the people with whom the author, Shaun T. Griffin, works. A tender observation of the natural world and our place in it, the collection invites readers to open their hearts to offer tolerance and understanding.


My Review</B>: Okay. Read this:
<blockquote><U>By a Fire in Ballyhinch Castle</u>
She lies close&mdash;the hydrangeas
folded in rainy abandon,
this fall day in the roadside wet,
the Celt below this bog, and last night
in the pub of poets and singers
who luted and tin-whistled
at the Alcock and Brown&mdash;

to burn the moisture from
the wood, from she who
dries beneath a canopy
of nerine lilies and fuchsia.
On the road home, she picks
blackberries from the thicket
and licks the sweet wine from her hands.</blockquote>
What. The Actual. Fuck. Is. This.

They're all pretty much like this. Text messages that he sent when he was drunk and has now printed out and then gave titles to. I still hate poetry. I rate this three stars because, for all I know or can tell, this could be genius and I, as always with this form of expression, am insensible to its charms.

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Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book.

Honestly; this poetry was not for me in the slightest. It just bored me and I felt like I was forcing myself to read it.

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Thanks to NetGalley and University of Nevada Press for the ARC!

I love that so many of these pieces are dedicated to people. Readers get the sense that they are stepping into Shaun Griffin’s circle of friends, and I think for many people that will be enough. It is always a privilege to read poetry, even more so when it feels so personal.

Unfortunately, for me, the poems felt personal in the sense of insularity rather than interiority. The sprawling nature of each piece evokes the titular wilderness, and one could view that as a strength or weakness of the work. From my perspective, though, it seemed to obscure Griffin’s voice, instead prioritizing elemental language and a preoccupation with sounding “poetic." I feel like the best poems seem like they could only exist as poems. In this book, I was never too certain of why they weren’t simply prose.

As a caveat, I should note that Griffin wears his influences on his sleeve, with references to poets like Robert Frost and Wendell Berry, and I’m wondering if readers who favor work like that would enjoy this book more than I did.

Despite the critiques, I think people should still check this out! It’s very traditional in a lot of ways, and I think maybe our tastes gravitate too much toward novelty. There’s something to be said for a poet willing to cultivate such an approach. From what I understand about Shaun Griffin, he is deeply invested in his state and community, and I think that shines here—it’s just a matter of whether those outside the community can find a way in.

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I've been reading a lot of poetry lately, and looking at the world and the people in it through Griffin's lens felt like taking a deep breath after a stressful day. It felt like a gift, a moment of quiet within which to reflect.

Griffin is obviously a talented and experienced poet, but it's the compassion that shines through for me-- the tenderness with which he observes and describes people and places. His descriptions of friends, family, and coworkers are particularly evocative. This collection did what my favorite poems do-- it filled me with nostalgia, or maybe it's more apt to call it farsickness?

I started to list out my favorite poems from this collection, and realized the list was just too long. Just do yourself a favor and read it; then you can pick out your own favorites.

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This book of poetry will be for someone else- just not me. I did not connect with any of the poems in the book. Poetry is a very personal thing. For me this was just spread over a wide area of subjects, which just did not grab me. I thank NetGalley and the University of Nevada Press for the advance read.

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