poems in Michael Catherwood’s Projector
cast a brilliant light on a working-class family’s close-knit past: “no one
dead yet, no one crazy,/ no one drunk, no one alone,/no one lost, no one/
leaving, no one but us/ in the Nebraska dusk,/ the infinite promise of time.”
Catherwood’s limitless empathy—for those close to him as well as
strangers—informs every line of these poems, bringing the balm of grace to
pain, transforming grief to illumination, granting understanding to poet and
Hennessy, author of Coney Island Pilgrims
and Poetry Editor of The Common
Projector is like a home movie showing us crystalline images of what
gets left out of the American Dream—here we have homemade Go-Karts, wig stores
set on fire, and dive bars filled with Shriner hats, one-armed Vets, and a bum
with a toothache who gets his tooth pulled between stanzas. At times,
elegiac, at times wry, at times celebratory, Catherwood’s a master at finding
both the meaning and the music in everyday situations. His graceful
triolets, prose poems, dramatic monologues, and sonnets are nuanced and
informed. Projector is a marvelous book.
Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi and author of Tender Hooks and
Heating & Cooling: 52
The book title expresses its aesthetic. Its poems present arresting images, incisive economies of diction. Seeming fragments leap from contexts to startle us. Our lives' often imponderable patterns blaze up in sudden unforgettable insights, disorders clarify-- even if briefly--crystallize. "I pedal a hot curve of asphalt/ ... glide under sprinklers" captures an essence of childhood. An amazingly intricate villanelle builds through complexities to yield this irrefutable truth: "We are what we sought."
--Greg Kuzma, Only the Dead are Forgiven
If You Turned Around Quickly is a volume of sharp observations in well-crafted poems, where time is a major player, moving them both physically and emotionally, and where head-and tail-lights are “Always/ the traffic to remind/ us we breathe.” Catherwood makes imaginative use of form, repetition and rhyme, transforming cars, trash cans, shopping malls, bars, box cars, gravel roads and gritty asphalt into engaging poems that “…bluff/ my bones until they’re stunned/ into the dance….
--Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska State Poet Laureate, Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet
If you’re in the mood for pastoral melodies, look elsewhere. These poems are played in a minor key, with both power and finesse. They’re about entropy and mortality, observed mainly in a part of the blue-collar Midwest where bars function as retreats from a hardscrabble existence. But beneath the grimness, a muted beauty abides. Thanks to Catherwood’s artistry and passion, If You Turned Around Quickly offers compelling music about haunted lives in a haunted landscape.
--William Trowbridge, Poet Laureate of Missouri.
It's been awhile since I've read a collection of poems as authentic, disciplined, well-crafted and moving as Mike Catherwood's new book Dare— like a good hunting knife, the steel in these poems performs its operations with refinement and a necessary brutality, lifting the skin from everything Catherwood lays hands on. — Erin Belieu, 1994 winner of the National Poetry Series for Infanta, selected by Hayden Carruth.