The poems in Copperhead use the deeply wrought questions with which it is concerned to wisely come up with a sort of memoir.... Richardson here equals the formal beauty of Derek Walcott’s poems concerning the brutal beauty of the Caribbean or Czeslaw Milosz’s on Poland’s terrible history during the Second World War.
-Sean Singer, for The Rumpus (read the rest)
If the train bound for Rachel Richardson’s Louisiana stops near where I’m biding time, I’ll soon be long gone.
-R. T. Smith, for Shenandoah (read the rest)
Dreams within dreams, the South of Richardson’s Copperhead is equally fact and fiction, with the poet as one who documents and collects.
-Nick Ripatrazone, for StorySouth (read the rest)
Richardson picks through landmines and vines, past current-day prisons and strip malls, sifting through inheritances. Her conjured, poisoned, rescued poems hang in the balance.
-Tess Taylor, for Boston Review (read the rest)
Like mist rising from low-lying fields, these poems linger in our imagination long after reading.
-William Ferris, co-editor of The
Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
These are poems with a passionate investment in place. They evoke the way that the locale makes the life: of families, of language, and finally of the memories which resolve in this book into craft and restraint and cadence. This is a wonderful debut collection.
When the object of love, which we also call home, is a site of indelible historical culpability, and the lover, who is also unflinching and true, is a poet of unfailing subtlety, both musical and moral, how shall she write the worthy love poem? Not a task for lesser spirits. But a task so beautifully accomplished by the author of this fine and finely-honed first book that it becomes a beacon for us all. Rachel Richardson writes her corner of the American South, writes with haunting resonance and perfect calibration, with tenderness and with dismay, with a native part in sorrow, and with, yes, with love.
As sensuous, cerebral, and mysterious as thick layers of hanging moss over muddy water, this ear-catching debut of poems performs in its language a semi-magical charm of memory, seduction, and redemption. My suggestion: avoid all evacuation routes and stay put. Richardson is a remarkable talent who teaches us to faithfully read the signs that make us broken and beautiful.
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist
Eric Hoffer Award Finalist