Ghost Gear

by Andrew McFadyen

ghost-gearAndrew 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

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

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

Ghost Gear by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
Release: Feb 26, 2013
University of Arkansas Press

$16.95 paper • 978-1-55728-654-3
e-book • 978-1-61075-538-2

This book can be ordered at:
University of Arkansas Press

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