In his second full-length collection, James Stotts’ lyric voice is unflinching, and cut-to-the-bone. The poems in these pages encompass observations, delights, occasions; studies and laments of the makers; thoughts of fatherhood, husbandry, and pilgrimage. Hellenic winds blow through Colorado, Ireland, New England. Feral ghosts and old friends speak from their hidden places among the trees. The birds of Russian wilderness sing in Boston mornings. Memory mingles with imagination.
But whether the moment is contemplative or tempestuous, its forces are contained by the poet’s masterful precision. Stotts employs lithe, sharp language to get directly to the heart of the matter, without throat-clearing or other narrative superfluities. In each poem, the unshaped contents of the mind take on sudden crystalline form, the way breath-smoke on a winter windowpane will freeze into intricate configurations before melting back into fog.
James Stotts was born in 1982, the last of five children, in southern Colorado, and grew up in New Mexico. He studied Russian literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico, was a research assistant in Russian at Boston College, and has translated the Russian poetry of Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, Esenin, Brodsky, Boris Ryzhy and others. He has traveled and studied in Russia on numerous occasions. He lives in Boston with his wife son.