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Cross Country, Poems by Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans
The poems of this collection form an epistolary dialogue, one that ranges across the full expanse of lived experience.
"Writing from the penumbra of Harrison's and Hugo's letter poems, Newberry and Evans mine genuine empathy and friendship to write odes and litanies to the everyday messes and celebrations that make a life worth living. As Evans writes to Newberry, 'I think we're all looking / for something,' and in every poem of Cross Country, these two men long, thrive, struggle, and exhibit extraordinary faith in themselves and each other. From miracle babies to long-ago passed-on fathers-'It all comes down to fathers / & sons, right?'-Newberry and Evans replay these complex rituals 'as if / the barrier between life and death [does] not exist.' The rhythms of memory, the wonders of remembering: In this extraordinary book, there's an urgency in the ethereal space shared by these two poets where they find-or at least converse with-spiritual clarity, and they gift it, here, between these covers, praise God, to us."- Gary McDowell, author of Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None
"These epistolary poems take their inspiration from their occasion, but are always looking for something larger. Reading them, the individual voices of Evans and Newberry, as they weave around, toward, away, with each other, one gets the feeling of sitting in a public place, where the conversation going on one table over is much more interesting than what one is doing, so that you inch closer in their direction, wanting not to miss where this is going. And where this book is going is apparent at the outset, these letters back and forth across the country are determined to get on with it, to call attention to our dailiness and shared experience. This book is a welcome, open invitation, to participate in the precious ephemera that make a life."-John Gallaher, author of In A Landscape, and editor of The Laurel Review
"The poems in Cross Country join the voices of Jeff Newberry and Justin Evans in song that spans literature, teaching, families, and our place in the universe. One poem asks why 'we are blessed with such inordinate beauty.' One reason might be that we live in the time of such seers as Newberry and Evans who are brave enough to stare unflinchingly into this life and speak of the highways that separate and join all of us."-Al Maginnes, author of Inventing Constellations and The Next Place
"In their poetry collection Cross Country, Justin Evans and Jeff Newberry use the timeless vehicle of the epistolary to provide readers with reflections on family history, faith, fatherhood, and the way that a life's trajectory can both embrace and resist comparison to the landmarks that populate our map. Replete with imagery that elevates the ordinary to new importance, Cross Country delivers moments of insight within a chronicle of engaging banter. 'I think being a father eludes all men, like chasing / a flock of birds or school of fish, their sudden / orchestrated shifts from necessity but graceful / & beautiful at a distance' posits 'Letter to Newberry: Personal History,' one of many poems that strike the reader with their sincerity, and resonate well beyond the last stanza. Cross Country is a noteworthy project, a journey for both the authors and their audience."-Mary Biddinger, author of Small Enterprise and The Czar