“We cry for grief/ a long cry for grief/ America cries for we/ daughters and sons/ growing like grains of wheat in a dry and weary land/ put the tears to use/ redeem these wicked years” (Dante Alexander Wilcox, American Son)
When I saw a couple weeks ago that a fellow NGU alum, Dante Wilcox, had recently published a book of poetry, I had to buy a copy. I’d heard him read samples of his writing before at poetry nights on campus, and his words always left me with something to ponder. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised at all by how piercingly beautiful and thought-provoking his new book, American Son, is.
In his preface, Wilcox introduces his collection as an exploration of the theme Inheritance. The tone throughout the book is one of reflection; outward reflection on our nation mingled with more personal reflection on how the past impacts the present. Each poem is a simple snapshot of events that shaped history. The events themselves aren’t the focus; instead, the individual voices telling their stories hold center stage. Through varied perspectives, Dante reveals human nature at its most raw and vulnerable. By connecting his narrators to American history, Wilcox places the reader into contexts where moments of despair, greed, love, brokenness, and hope shine through in authentic ways.
Overall, the book is well-worth the read. Dante Wilcox’s poetry is grounded in a sense of place that adds weight to the narrative style. The imagery makes the stories of his poems inescapable, pulling the reader into every scene. And in each scene, the reader finds what lies at the heart of American heritage: memories of heartache and resilience. Wilcox cuts through the American dream to reveal its inadequacies. In doing so, he examines our history honestly and admits that we have skeletons in our past. Even so, Wilcox doesn’t end with despair. He offers hope that healing is possible; that these wicked years can be redeemed.
This book is a great edition to any poetry collection. Check out American Son on Amazon and add a copy to your shelf!