An exposed and exposing collection of poetry on inherited trauma, chronic illness, and the American South
Velvet, the second full-length collection from award-winning poet William Fargason, explores chronic illness, patriarchal abuse, intergenerational trauma, and racial inequality in the American South. Its speaker moves through the generations that preceded him to understand himself, and to heal from traumas both inherited and lived. As part of that heritage, the speaker confronts a family history of participation in racist ideologies and organizations to make sense of his own place within, and responsibility to, this history. In the titular lyric essay, “Velvet,” Fargason braids scientific research and YouTube videos in an attempt to forge paths for healing while contending with an inherited chronic disease. Ultimately, Velvet argues against traditional forms of toxic masculinity and suggests that vulnerability, soft and bleeding as the velvet on a deer’s antlers, offers one solution to it.
I House Made of Guns Apology That Summer at Seaside Punch List, 1994 Gasoline A Silverfish in the Childhood Open House Ankylosing Spondylitis as Conductor and Brakeman Tracing the Pain Sonnet with Chronic Illness River Ode to Klonopin People as Seasons as People Aim Ars Poetica Vox When My Father Tells Me to Move on Already Arrowhead
II Ark Elegy with Steam Elegy with My Great-Grandmother’s Piano Letter First Plea Waterline Sonnet with Bare Branches Flare-Up Family Reunion Ekphrasis in Alberta, Alabama Elegy with a Hurricane Velvet When My Father Tells Me I Had a Great Childhood
III Sonnet of Little Faith Elegy on the Whole The Morning of the Most Recent Shooting I Saw Alabama, 2004 Elegy with Teeth When My Alabama When the Cop Tells Us Elegy with a Wavelength of Sound Notes on Depression When My Brother Tells Me I’m Obsessed with Sadness Seaside Meditation On Dishes and My Father When My Friend Tells Me My Father Doesn’t Seem That Bad Admission with a Thousand Dead Birds On the Way to the Reading Ode to the Pillars of the Overpass Bridge Ode to My Pectus Excavatum Nesting Elegy for Another Late-Night Phone Call
Notes Thank Yous
WILLIAM FARGASON is the author of Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Iowa Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. His nonfiction has appeared in Brevity, The Offing, and elsewhere. He lives with himself in Towson, Maryland.
“William Fargason’s poems glimmer with grit and tenderness. Largely focused on the speaker’s relationship with his father, Velvet not only reckons with the violence we’ve inherited; these poems imagine how we might emerge from the ashes of the past, to start again, to have a voice, despite the abuses of toxic masculinity and the struggles of mental and physical illness. With lyrical mastery, rich narratives, and heightened vulnerability, Velvet is an intense and moving second collection.” —Marianne Chan, author of All Heathens
“In Velvet, Will Fargason masterfully writes toward and away from the intergenerational trauma the speaker of these poems is so familiar with—trauma carried in the body. The writing is sensory, musical, and full of a profound longing that avoids sentimentality or cliché. Fargason offers us a tender, self-reflective, vulnerable, and nuanced exploration of masculinity—critical and at once aware of its pervasive aspects at the personal and cultural levels.” —Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, author of 40 Weeks
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