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Titles 1998-2018

Black Sabbatical, Brett Eugene Ralph


Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature

When asked about his influences, Brett Eugene Ralph points to three enduring sources: growing up Southern working class in the 1970s and 80s, playing in punk rock bands, and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Not a likely combination for a poet, but one that has brought forth Black Sabbatical, a debut collection that sings with gutbucket colloquialisms, hallucinatory interludes, and the storytelling tradition of Kentucky. Riled and immediate, Ralph's poems mark the sanctity of each given moment, however confusing or harrowing, to honor its singular beauty. A heightened lyricism, but one fraught with methamphetamine confessions, gurus disguised as donkeys and owls. The voice that booms from Black Sabbatical is of a seeker tearing the place apart, unafraid to see things for himself, to sing what he has seen, or to say what the long road that led here has cost him.


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Additional Info

Brett Eugene Ralph lives in rural western Kentucky. His country-rock ensemble, Brett Eugene Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Revue, can be heard in seedy dives throughout the South.


“Reading these absolutely terrific poems, with their southern colloquial drawl and sober Buddhist insight, is a bit like having a sage old sleepy tiger purr in your ear while you lie at the edge of the swamp in back of Billy-Joes's pickup truck.”
Dazed & Confused Magazine

“Sustaining, inspiring, even rescuing.”
—Will Oldham, musician

“A true beast of a man with insight and beauty to spare.”
—Harmony Korine, filmmaker

“Brett Eugene Ralph can look at a woman dancing alone, ‘eyes closed, lips parted, held aloft / in one hand half a mango, / a gigantic butcher knife / clutched in the other,’ and know immediately that she’s praying.”
—Andrew Hudgins