Curtis L. Crisler is a poet who makes music from fire and beauty. He's mighty mighty, with a control over glorious language and a knack for prophecy made real everytime he puts a new collection into this world. His poems, like Stevie's music, make you feel better for the fate of this damaged world. Curtis L. Crisler's poems are all the way live, and you best believe that's the truth!
From centos to haiku the poems hit all the right notes. This book is filled with love for a giant who is no longer little. The genius of Wonder has always created a fuss of enjoyment. Crisler writes like he could rebuild Detroit. Hold his book by your fingertips. It's hot! Everything a reader needs is here - signed, sealed, delivered.
Curtis Crisler has a humorist's knack for off-kilter Rockwellian portraiture. Among the models for his odd Americana, a way-gangsta Amish dude, a rabbit lamenting a kind of gentrification, an elementary school teacher dropping n-bombs for lit's sake, and men jeans-deep in muddy water, their arms inside giant catfish. All these and more Crisler renders genialy enough that you may not notice how each is set against a background in a broken land. A land the poet insists is ours. All of ours.
Curtis Crisler is the man—the bone man, the heart man, the roaming coyote-man howling from the breath’s bowels. He’s a poet of the body—profoundly so—because his body extends into the contemporary culture of “This” Ameri-can-ah, its people and their public and private griefs. He writes to and from the body with urgency as if Lorca meets Langston Hughes at the corner of Miles and Muddy. And he interrogates the stuckness of individual identity, telling us, “A strong lonely lodges / in his belly, and he cannot see sky.” Still, Crisler’s vision finds redemption in the generative accretion of speech itself: “How our utterances will drive / smack into air like the sparrow veering to a new / direction.” This new direction that language lends—his remarkable images and linguistic depth—is Crisler’s tenderly bold love song to the ups and downs & ins and outs of our culture. As he says, “I am not afraid of a word clamping its fangs into my muscle; I have a serum; / I have a moment in my bones that I can watch over & over on 35mm recall, // or in Blue-Ray HD.” “This” Ameri-can-ah is our Ameri-can-ah, a public pool of possibility Crisler assures us in this stunning new book that is well within the redemptive reach of the poet’s tongue.
Curtis Crisler out-schools every school of American poetry in this new book that is formally diverse and attractively multi-voiced. But in all of these odes, elegies, litanies, and contrapuntal clap-backs, there is a commitment to exploring the vernacular that keep Crisler's "This" Amer-ican-ah a book that sounds much more like an intimate conversation between too long lost brothers. Or, as Crisler himself puts it, "...You bend words into lives that//live. Most get grounded. Some take sky."
"Just when contemporary poetry seems headed for a repetitive rut of sickly confessional, self-indulgent drivel, Curtis Crisler's fierce and unapologetic stanzas shatter a window to let the air in. This biting, innovative work that refuses to allow the reader to turn away. If you need any proof that poetry still has a future, look here. Here is the sign we've been waiting for."
"Curtis Crisler's poems are experimental but welcoming, funky intellectual rides that invite all to share in his scintillating view of the world. It's always a delight and a surprise to see where a Curtis Crisler poem goes, and there is always a gun-bucket substance beneath this poets flash and dazzle. In Pulling Scabs, Curtis Crisler fractures history into its own musical prism, insisting we embrace what we would rather deny. As readers and as people, we are better off for having witnessed the world through this book's radically remixed visions."
"In Pulling Scabs Curtis L. Crisler allows us to see the poetics of funk that is startling, intelligent, wide-Ranging and complex. Even when he is writing profoundly insightful persona poems, the lyric sensibility, that capacity to turn his complete fascination with the world around him into beautifully realized confessions, emerges with fierceness and tenderness. For Crisler, the historical is as compelling as the personal; he is a poet writing with a sense of moment. Crisler is a careful technician as a poet, but he never sacrifices emotional honesty and risk--and in the best moments, pure exuberance--for technical virtuosity. This is an enviable collection of poems that will, if we are willing, teach us something about how poetry can elevate us."