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Burnt Offerings by David Ray

Published: May 8, 2020


Here is a short notice of David Ray's latest poetry book, which was printed in the Arizona Daily Star yesterday.

“Burnt Offerings” by David Ray

Reviewed by Christine Wald-Hopkins

Wide-ranging, assertive, sometimes objective, sometimes subjective, the poems in David Ray’s 26th book are markedly accessible. The subjects in this collection by English and creative writing professor Ray range from war protest and environment consternation to pop culture and literary figures. Ray evokes Walt Whitman’s Civil War compassion in poems empathizing with soldiers in contemporary wars. He singles out a young bugle boy to remind us that “… men … die for the lies of their fathers.” In “By the Grand Canyon,” Ray recalls a Twin Towers image, and looks to nature to model human compassion and unity, and uses a cactus-trimming trope to reflect on the endurance of art. He relates anecdotes of well-known figures – Marilyn Monroe, Sidney Poitier; he imagines moments from the lives of Kafka, Kerouac, Colette, Plath. But the most affecting poems in the collection are the personal – where the speaker recalls childhood abandonment and abuse, where he expresses regrets, he grieves loss, admits emotional instability… as in the title poem, where his cherished belongings chucked out onto a sidewalk become “Burnt Offerings”.

David Ray now lives in Tucson.

from Judy Ray, Pima Friends Meeting (5/4/2020)