March 13, 2013
Dr. Benjamin Myers, who serves as Crouch-Mathis associate professor of literature at OBU, has released his second full-length collection of poems, “Lapse Americana,” published by NYQ Books.
“Lapse Americana” is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, and it will be available through other retailers on March 15.
The twin ravens of Norse myth, Thought and Memory, are reborn as American crows which fly an interweaving pattern of remembering and forgetting through the pages of Lapse Americana. Born out of the poet’s childhood during the Pax Americana and situated within the war and economic lapse of the new century, the poems explore memory and amnesia, faith and doubt, presence and absence. They are rooted in rural, working class experience as well as in the poetic traditions of America, Europe and China. By turns formal and jazzy, confessional and coy, the poems speak of the universal by focusing on the particular, emphasizing the values both of remembering and embracing forgetfulness.
“Benjamin Myers’ work is bedrock American with county fair Ferris wheels and the drought cracked earth of Oklahoma always in the foreground; no glamor sugar coats the boredom of small town teenagers,” said Karen Swenson, winner of the National Poetry Series. “His honesty scorches in his war poems, in his compassion for the woman left behind by a husband starting a second family, and in his own safe bookish life. We are all complicit in the life portrayed by this poetry, although few of us have the daring of his directness.”
“In Lapse Americana, Benjamin Myers proves the poem is ready to take on anything and everything, whether it’s Dante, Oklahoma, the city dump, Virgil, the circus, the analog world, Anchises, divorce, the Alamo, racist friends, Paul Klee, Hamlet, harvest, and yes, even mannequins, knock-knock jokes, Odin and head lice,” said Dean Rader, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize. “Like Walt Whitman, Myers sees poetry as a democratic project, a celebratory endeavor that creates inclusion rather than exclusion. Myers’ uncanny ability to merge accessibility with invention reminds me of fellow Oklahoman Woody Guthrie. Both Guthrie and Whitman would admire Lapse Americana’s masterful mash up of aesthetics and ethics. Of one thing I’m certain –this poetic land was made for you and me.”
Myers won the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry for his first book, “Elegy for Trains.” His poems may be read in numerous literary journals, including The New York Quarterly, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Borderlands, Salamander, and the Chiron Review, as well as online in Devil’s Lake, DMQ Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Elimae, Poetrybay, and elsewhere.
A native of Chandler, Okla., Myers earned his bachelor’s degree from University of the Ozarks, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. He has taught at OBU since 2005.
NYQ Books was established in 2009 as an imprint of The New York Quarterly Foundation, Inc. Its mission is to augment the New York Quarterly poetry magazine by providing an additional venue for poets who are already published in the magazine.