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Photos by Patricia Crapo 



There’s a fearlessness in Joshua Michael Stewart's collection Break Every String.-- tough, tightly written narratives and monologues about living poor with broken people (some of whom are your closest relatives) in hard times. This heartfelt gritty work reminds me of the hardscrabble accounts of humanity in some of our best poets-- the work of Ai, Bruce Weigel, and Linda McCarriston's landmark book, Eva-Marie. Stewart exercises the courage of truth telling and takes the revenge of real poetic craft. As Bruce Weigel says "Say it clearly and you make it beautiful, no matter what." Or as Stewart says, "Poets are the battered spouses of hope." You can't help but respect the maker of these streamlined vehicles, for his guts and his unsentimental, vivid poems.

                                                                                                            -Tony Hoagland    




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