Chord, Rick Barot
Winner of the PEN/Open Book Award
Winner of the 2016 UNT Rilke Prize
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Prize
PW Pick: Books of the Week, July 6, 2015
The poems of Chord are without flash or gimmick, and though they accurately reflect our moment, they would have been recognized as superb poetry in any time or place. In this his third book, Rick Barot solidifies and extends his reputation as a meticulous, elegant, musical contemporary American poet.
Rick Barot was born in the Philippines, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and received his MFA from the The Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is the author of The Darker Fall and Want and directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.
Praise for Chord:
“At his best, Barot seamlessly weaves history, image, and etymology in ways that offer the reader new eyes to see language and the world it describes.... Barot’s poems transfix and transform through his remarkable ability to pack and unpack narratives within the space of an image.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Barot . . . is concerned with the enlargement of our empathy, desire, and sense of wonder for that which must lie, in part, beyond representation. . . . The paradox of language as severed and thereby charged with the longing that binds runs through the entire book. The music of elegy and lamentation provides a figure for this quality of language, invoking those who, like music, are ever in the process of becoming lost. . . . Barot once again weds the experience of beauty to the horror of experience, both of which lie embedded within the language of place. Beauty, therefore, cannot be extricated from all that it is not.”
“This book harmonizes with the two that came before, while stretching, too—reaching to reveal Barot’s ever-increasing dexterity as a maker of songs. There is perhaps an analogy here with the way a pianist extends his pinky finger farther than he thinks he can in order to complete the chord, then trembles at the unexpected grace.... The poems are sensuously complex, perhaps the most complex of Barot’s canon—that chord again, that striking of multiple, complementary pitches.”
“These new poems, while various in subject matter, are all seemingly born from a world tenaciously observed, from a practice of looking closely in a way that both reaches for what has gone before and remembers that the present will soon pass, too. You might imagine this makes for a melancholy read, but instead, these poems crackle with the language of deep attention, making his observations of even the mundane seem like prayer. Barot is also brilliantly adept at taking abstract thought and giving it flesh.
—Nickole Brown, Arkansas Times
“I envy Barot’s measure and patience—the poems of Chord gently coax us into their arms where we learn about the mind and grief and how art preserves and distorts experience and how we manipulate our worlds, consciously or otherwise. This is an incredible strength of these poems, making them rather sleek, deft, and effective, for both the avid poetry reader and the less familiar….Essential poems that confront and question colonialism, privilege, and other problematic... mind positions... Chord is healthy for the craft of poetry and for the soul of society.
"I loved that I could feel him wrestling to understand his life, even while the poems make clear that he knows the limits of understanding. The fluidity with which Barot walks this difficult line between meaning and certainty makes these poems feel more born than made. This is a fantastic book."
"A song plays throughout this collection and soon we realize that it’s Rick Barot’s chord, each poem a note striking harmony between living and the reverie of lives lived. . . . If these poems don’t move you, have your hearing checked."
–A. Van Jordan
"Chord is a smart, moving, and elegant collection that takes none of its hard-won assertions for granted."