first book of poetry, Ghost Gear
where fathers worked overtime at the nearby Ford Glass plant and kids roamed the streets.
These poems of an urban life are joined by
verses inspired by tales told by McFadyen-Ketchum’s father, who took his children to explore the natural world surrounding
the city and regaled them with stories of his own childhood: a near drowning by tidal wave on the Aleutian Chain, a near copperhead
strike in the black willow swamps of Shreveport, sleeplessness after a science fiction radio-story.
In Ghost Gear, the “citied south” joins tales
of the father, a longer ago childhood bleeding into a more current one to create a mythology all its own. Ghost Gear was a 2014 Finalist for the Miller Williams Prize, part of the University of Arkansas Press poetry series, edited
by Enid Shomer.
Readings from Ghost Gear book tour
Reviews of Ghost Gear
Interviews with McFadyen-Ketchum
Click to read a selection of poems from Ghost Gear
What They're Saying about Ghost
Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is not a poet of
small ambition. He reaches after big subjects in the high style, and --mirabile dictu-- he brings it off. There is something
of Walt Whitman in McFadyen-Ketchum. He is a rhapsodist spinning words into a musical web. Line by line the poems pulse
with verbal energy. His language is all meat and muscle. And yet, at the heart of the poems, one finds not simply a literary
performance but a tender alertness to the world.
Gioia, author of Can Poetry Matter
In the tradition, narratives march and lyrics fly. Ghost
Gear is a book rich with narrative, but its primary impulse is always toward flight,
and so McFadyen-Ketchum joins the ranks of practitioners of the vertical narrative: Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Penn Warren,
and Rodney Jones to name a few. “I am a poet retelling a telling,” he writes, and the point of retelling is always
to up the ante, to make the story more potent, more rewarding, and more dangerous. “It is as if we are subjects in a
grand / experiment,” one of his poems declares, and the poet’s alembic refines its world down to basic substances,
essences, and ash.
Hummer, author of Ephemeron
In Ghost Gear, Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
has written an affecting, and affective, book-length examination of a child’s coming of age into a world in which
childhood is not innocent, and beauty is never entirely free of violence. In these lush, maximalist poems, McFadyen-Ketchum
strips away the sentimental haze of childhood nostalgia to reveal a world in which shockingly common acts of violence pierce
our understanding of how America treats and nurtures its young. Like certain of Whitman’s poems, Ghost Gear moves
from the self-perceptions of the individual to the larger world that immerses it, between moments of high lyricism and simple,
concrete references to pop culture, revealing how a strange intimacy might occur between groups of people and things that
are “not supposed” to connect but in these poems, surprisingly, do.
Paisley Rekdal, author of Animal Eye