Grace By John Barr


ISBN: 9781597092654
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 01/15/2013
Page Count: 132
Category: American - General
Language: English
Dimensions: 0.60"(h) x 6.10"(w) x 8.90"(d)


by John Barr

The Adventures of Ibn Opcit is a two-volume mock epic of social satire. Grace, the first volume, is the master song of Ibn Opcit, a Caribbean gardener/poet condemned to die by torture. In a series of jailhouse monologues we hear him descant on justice, on creation, on America, on death and on life after death.

This excerpt was written 20 years ago, before Donald Trump entered politics.

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“The six parts of [Grace] add up to linguistic tour de force, verbal playfulness reminiscent of the work of James Joyce or Anthony Burgess. Grace is a unique reading experience, guaranteed to add spice to the ‘glum tostada’ of American poetry.” —Library Journal

“I have relished reading Grace and rereading it many times. I think it is an extraordinary piece of writing, so daring and yet so joyfully positive. At times uproariously funny, and then, suddenly, so beautifully sad, a wondrous attempt to humanize the language that for me translates into sheer reading pleasure. I keep it on my small private bookshelf, it has given me a reading pleasure that doesn’t come often from new poetry these days.” —Alastair Reed, New Yorker

“John Barr’s Grace is a wonderful surprise. It’s that rarest, rarest, rarest of phenomena, an enjoyable book of contemporary poetry. He’s on to something marvelous. The potential of his new approach is limitless.” —Tom Wolfe

“In Grace, not only does John Barr handle the demanding form of the long poem with skill and panache, but he delivers a one-of-a-kind linguistic tour de force. Spoken mostly with a Caribbean dialect and rollicking with word play, Grace achieves a riotous level of verbal inventiveness. I don’t know of any other work with which to compare it unless we think of it as a kind of funky Finnegan’s Wake in verse with palm trees. You have never read anything quite like this wildly sustained imaginative drama. Set those one-page lyrics aside and dive into this momentous feat.” —Billy Collins

“John Barr’s Grace is an incredibly risky poem about white American consciousness in the instant of attempting sympathy with black American (in this case Caribbean) consciousness. This cross-cultural ambition could be any more vertiginous, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not crucial to the regional literature. Barr’s courage and zeal for the project are astonishing, and his ambition should be the wonder of writers and readers north and south of the Panama Canal.” —Rick Moody, author of The Ice Storm