James Arthur's first full length collection of poetry reads like an X-Ray, making flesh invisible so all the inside bits can be seen so clearly that you'd almost wish not to have seen at all. He writes of a very specific time of early adulthood, the coming to terms with a past weighing heavy so that forward momentum can take hold. Encompassing emotions and actions that aren't always so virtuous or characteristically poetic, I appreciate that Arthur's narrative voice isn't afraid to admit failings of character in order to grow past them. Composed over long walks and endless recitations, Arthur's poems achieve an unvarnished honesty, not a hint of pretense. That in and of itself is an accomplishment, but thankfully, also, the poems are just that good.— From Cory
"That feeling of becoming a new person in a different place, even if it's an illusion, is intoxicating to me, and always has been. I love writing about places, but only places where I don't belong."--James Arthur
Awakening is the theme of this fiery debut about the "ghost world" of shadows and personae. A sense of history, politics, and place is an integrated and integral part of the whole, alive with stirring accounts of travel, intimate moments of solitude, and encounters with the ineffable. Romantic in spirit and contemporary in outlook, James Arthur writes exciting, rhythmical, elastic poems.
"Charms against Lightning"
Against meningitis and poisoned milk,
flash floods and heartwreck, against daydreams
Against losing your fingers, drinking detergent,
earthquakes, baldness, divorce, against
falling in love with a child
Against lupus and lawsuits, lying stranded between nations,
against secrets and frostbite, the burring of trains
that never arrive
Against songlessness, your mother's depression,
the death of the cedars, Siberian crane
Against these talismans against lightning;
the shutters swing, and clack their yellow teeth;
the deep sky welters and the windows quiver
James Arthur's poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, and Narrative. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in Toronto, Ontario, he earned degrees from the University of Toronto, the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Washington. He is a recent recipient of the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.