a selection of poems from Ghost Gear
They're Saying about Ghost Gear...
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.
Dana 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.
T.R. 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