Nouns & Verbs brings together thirty-five years of writing from Campbell McGrath, one of America’s most highly lauded poets. Offering a hint of where he’s headed while charting the terrain already covered, McGrath explores America’s limitless material and spiritual hungers
...McGrath knows the ins and outs of appetite as deeply, and as thoroughly, as he knows the highways and byways of America. He has spent decades exploring both. Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems is a rich and invigorating sampling of the poetic results of these explorations ... Like Whitman, like America, McGrath ranges in his work from the beautiful to the brash, from the expansive to the intimate ... He has, it seems, been pretty much everywhere in this country, and he is nearly peerless in his ability to capture the character, tastes and textures of particular regions and locales. Tastes and textures are particularly salient here. America’s essence, for McGrath, is grounded in those conceptually conjoined twins, consumption and hunger ... A former punk musician, McGrath feels a deep affection for the joyful raucous stupidity of rock music; refreshingly, he isn’t ashamed to say so in a poem.
It’s hard to think of another contemporary poet who so reminds one of Whitman...and those later Whitmanians, Sandburg and Ginsberg, James Wright and Richard Hugo, in his frequently long-lined verses and rolling prose poems (a thick swatch of them in this five-part volume is like a festival of inspired short films) that habitually report on road trips and things that happen away from home,...He has companions—friends, wife, kids—along for the rides, but he remains attentive to the ways places look and his interactions with natives and other travelers. McGrath’s absorbing, amusing, and reflective traveling music entices us on the road yet again.
In a mix of long-line lyric poems, short poems and prose poems, McGrath inspects all that goes by ... McGrath is intelligent company, his poems exhibiting a curious, sometimes furious mind tuning into the 'literal noise of our culture,' both violent and beautiful.