Reviews for Barman
“You might be envious of the people James Jay has the chance to meet—a barman’s constant stream of lives leaning against his copper coated counter. But what you should be envious of are his words—the way pulls them from the people and the bottles and the dim lamps their inner stories. James Jay’s words make shape of starlight. They reveal air as speech. They add texture to this thick life. These poems show people at their most intimate moments—vulnerable, open, and full of human emotion—just like James Jay and just like his words. Take this book with you where you go because these poems are human. With them, you will never be lonely. “
—Nicole Walker, author of Sustainability: A Love Story
“In the tradition of Philip Levine and Jim Daniels, these are poems that sweat and get their hands dirty—by someone unafraid, in the words of Philip Larkin, to “let the toad work squat on my life.” Beneath that toad is a poet whose mental toughness is combined with a kind and gentle heart. Time and again, Jay uncovers the uncommon in the commonplace, sometimes from his experience as proprietor of one of Flagstaff’s premier bars. Work, both physical and spiritual, is the abiding element in this impressive collection, in which even love poems must be written “On the back of tomorrow and its scrawled to-do list”—and are no less moving for that.”
—William Trowbridge, author of Vanishing Point
Praise for The Journeymen
The Journeymen has recently been nominated for a PEN Award, a Before Columbus Society Award and poems from the collection have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
“In a bar in Little Rock, I listen to a poet reciting his own work and nod my head at the cadence. The man beside me asks me if I know any poems for truck drivers these days.
“‘Take a look at Pablo Neruda,’ I tell him. ‘There maybe D.A. Powell and yes, James Jay.’”
“So I tell him about James Jay and his new book, The Journeymen. Find I can actually remember some of the ‘letter from the united states department of poetry’ and then most of ‘The Briefly Unemployed Bouncer’. “His mind is an ’83 Dodge Colt.” My new friend laughs and nods. He once
owned a Dodge Colt. His was unreliable.
“If I could, I would give him the whole of ‘Mountain Rivera’ but I know I would start to cry at the story—a life that echoes the men in my family as starkly as the flattened planes of their aging faces.
“The Journeymen is that rare thing—a book as meaty as its
subjects, as thick as silence, and as satisfying as a perfect blues
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“James Jay’s new collection is like the best kind of public house where revolutionaries sit alongside prizefighters, medieval saints and 20th-century felons take shots at the bar, and Old Angel Moonlight waits by the pool table to sweetly sucker you with his hustle.”
—Jim Ruland, author of Big Lonesome