Re-Write Men by Michael Gaspeny
“In these poems, we encounter characters as down-and-out, as demented, and as holy as Hazel Motes in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood: Preacher Cruckshank, Stub, Mojo, Skeletal Stanley, Flipper. The persona is sometimes a neighbor on Redbud Lane, sometimes an animal advocate, often a hospice volunteer calling in on a hospital or ‘firetrap hotel’ to watch Bonanza or bring a last meal of cornbread and beans. In this world, so masterfully crafted with pain and compassion, it’s hard to tell the caregiver from the taker, the dying from the dead. Characters ‘crush cigarillos out on their palms,’ live with their ‘eyes tuned inside’ and climb into the attic to check the ‘rafters for something dangling.’ Yet, because near-death awareness may inform their outbursts—‘I’ll be back, but I ain’t Christ’ or ‘Watch the horses! The real show’s inside’—they offer revelations we may not yet know we need.”
–Janice Moore Fuller, author of Sex Education and On the Bevel
“There is a lovely, tough-but-tender-hearted mood to these gritty, noirish poems. If ‘the devil is in the details,’ then Gaspeny’s poems are indeed devilish, but the better angels are dancing there, too, and profligately. Strong sentiment held in check by formal clarity is so often the secret of memorable poems, and Gaspeny has learned that arduous lesson by heart. Strongly narrative and chock full of vivid characters and voices—Stub, Preacher Cruckshanks, Sister Rosetta, Flipper—Re-Write Men is a fond and fearful mash-up of Weegee and Philip Levine.”
–Jim Clark, author of Dancing on Canaan’s Ruins
As a poet, short-story writer, and reporter, Michael Gaspeny has published widely. For nearly four decades, he taught English and Journalism, mainly at Bennett College and High Point University, where he received the distinguished teaching award. While gaining an MFA in creative writing at the University of Arkansas, he worked as a sportswriter covering the Razorbacks and as a general assignments reporter. His features on Bill Clinton's first campaign for national office have been frequently quoted in biographies of the former president. Gaspeny holds an MA from the University of Richmond and an undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon College. Michael has won the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition and the O. Henry Festival Short Story Competition. For his service as a hospice volunteer, he was awarded the North Carolina Governor's Award for Excellence. He lives in Greensbor with his wife Lee Zacharias, the novelist and essayist. They have two sons.