Overtipping the Ferryman

2013 Aldrich Press Poetry Prize

 

"With an ear that searches and regularly finds language that complicates and fulfills his apparently Manichean vision, R.G.Evans navigates between reverence and irreverence in these often terrific poems.  Death and fire dominate their imagery, and a kind of spiritual ferocity their tone. These are spiritual poems that don't attempt to console. They are poems of complicity. Their speaker wants "more," and knows something about its price. To overtip the ferryman suggests the anxiety behind the journey, the uncertainty of the arrival.  It doesn't get much better than this."

Stephen Dunn, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

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In Overtipping rhe Ferryman, R.G. Evans  gives us an evocative meditation on life and death, survival and loss,  love and sorrow. This is a haunting book that unflinchingly explores what it means to be human and to recognize all our own flaws, even as we try to escape them. In polished and elegant poems, Evans has the courage to look at himself in the mirror and not turn turn away from what he finds there. How could we do less than follow where he leads?

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, winner of the American Book Award 

 

Placed in a psychological landscape somewhere between Dante’s Divine Comedy and Richard Farina’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, R.G. Evans plants his poetic flag in a nook of the Garden where shadow is relentless and sunlight, only rarely, makes its searing appearance; his is a deeply convincing and seductive habitation, and his poems are delivered with a faultless ear, a wicked sense of humor, and a keen awareness of the human world that flourishes between the wretched and the hopeful. Overtipping the Ferryman is a fabulous book.

Renee Ashley, Because I Am the Shore I Want To Be the Sea

 

 

While reading for the Aldrich Poetry Award, I tripped and fell into the world of a skeptic obsessed with what he doubts—who takes the symbols and stories of creation and wrests them to his own uses, though God and the skeletons under our skin are never far away, and lend power and support to his poems.  The collection by R.G. Evans has the virtues of energy, largeness of subject, strong narrative, and humor that begins with the double meaning of the title, Overtipping the Ferryman.  He surprises us in story and in metaphor, giving us the child who leaps from her crib like a toad, the man plunging beneath the sea like a bone anchor, the forked lightning of a woman’s body, the fusing of plucked music and apple.  Wandering in his harsh, lively world, we may desire more hours, more life.  But in that realm, spiky thistles and flowers of gall blossom along his path, that “seam between belief and what I know is true.”

Marly Youmans, 2013 Aldrich Prize Judge