Revisionist History by Kenneth C. Fish Jr

This is not a test... 

This is a book of poetry. Mostly observations, often times, on a near molecular level, of how things work, fit together or interact with one another or their environment.

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  • ISBN-10: 1430305738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430305736

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by Liam Costernocht
Though the logic may be faulty
the reasons seem perfectly clear -
clear from will and want

it is from this position with its restrictions -
its limits and possibilities,
that the boundaries are the balance.

Are any of the arts better equipped to give an account of the interstitial zones we inhabit -- between contemplation and action, resolution and hesitation, faith and doubt -- than poetry? In Revisionist History, Napa poet Kenneth Fish attempts to do just that. Although many of these poems are difficult and highly personal, the first-person singular is employed sparingly in this 44-poem collection, making works like "Taxonomy" (excerpted above), "Listing," and "When Willing to Travel" that much more accessible. What is required, as with most dense poetry, is a willingness to trust the poet and take your time.

It's when Fish combines this perception of the interstitial with his observation of the tangible that his poetry truly soars, whether it involves weeding a yard ("Oxalis"), braving the chill of a stream ("From Somewhere to Somewhere"), domestic malaise ("Glance Away"), the light filtering through trees ("Rounding"), or the joy of lying in the sun with a lover, here from "Brotherhood":

here, out of site, we are reached
only by the wind, cooled by the ocean

the sweat on our summer hides
a quick ripple that reminds we're alive.

With their wordplay and rhythms, many of these poems move with a lilt that can best described as Irish. This sometimes extends to the subject itself. In "Cathal's Lake," inspired by a short story of the same name by Colum McCann, Fish, Connecticut born-and-raised, displays a remarkable mastery of vernacular tone in lines that combine the darkest days of 'the Troubles' with the redemptive legend of The Children of Lir. Word for word, this poem, the longest in the collection, is as masterful an evocation of beautiful-terrible Ireland as any I've ever read.
Even non-lovers of poetry will be moved.
by Alonso Duralde
The word "poetry" might make you recoil like a slug crawling into a salt mine, but Kenneth Fish's astounding volume will draw in even the most resistant readers. If you don't relate first-hand to at least one of the works herein, you haven't done enough living.
Accomplished, polished and one-of-a-kind.
Robert Mc diarmid
I purchased the hardcover version of this book - I've long been a fan of Kenneth's work.

He provides a voice to a contemporary gay poet who has embraced true authenticity. You can really hear his voice and his meter in his work. He creates a real journey in his choices for this first book - and makes sure that the reader can see and feel his point of view.

In an era of magnets-on-the-fridge poetry - Fish brings a clear voice to contemporary poetry. It takes a lot of character to be this open in his material. If you are ready for something new that's real, sometimes brutally so - then you'll adore this beautiful collection of prose as much as I have.