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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
  Stephen Gibson

ISBN 978-0-9844510-1-2     $18  /  $21 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

78 pp      
PUB DATE: Spring 2010       Poetry


Winner of the 2009 Idaho Prize for Poetry, selected by Carolyne Wright

In Frescoes, Stephen Gibson assumes the charge of the engaged tourist, paying his entry fee to the chapels and basilicas of Renaissance Florence and Padua and Rome in order to enter in to much more subversive premises: to see through the pigmented plaster and marble facades to the real-life consequences of original sin and human depravity depicted in these treasures of High Art. Gibson is a wised-up pilgrim in sanctuaries whose faith he cannot share. . . . Harsh and highly accomplished, these poems redeem the people from the paint, plaster and piety. They pull victims and perpetrators alike out of the history and myth of the treasures of Great Arts into the arena of our ongoing moral dilemmas, our struggles for survival as well as for the preservation of compassion and decency in a perennially fallen human world. After reading these poems, we will never again be able to stand before these mysteries of life and death and then, like too many tourists, merely check them off our guidebook’s must-see list. Stephen Gibson has created a sequence of poems with the same sweep and dimension as the art that inspired them.

—Carolyne Wright, Final Judge for the Idaho Prize for Poetry 2009

When I first met Steve Gibson, some four decades ago now, he was already writing terrific poems, and he liked to talk about nothing more than poetry and politics. All these years later, not a lot has changed. Steve is still writing the kind of wonderfully crafted poem he learned to admire as a seventeen-year-old, while studying with W. H. Auden, and politics are at the center of his concerns: the politics of the heart in a culture of violence, the politics of blood and family, war and religion, of saints and murderers, hustlers and thieves. His is an often disturbing voice, but one we need to hear, and one, I believe, that would make his old teacher proud.

—Edward Falco

About the Author

Stephen Gibson

Stephen Gibson was born and raised in New York City where he met W.H. Auden, who became an important influence on his work, and studied at Syracuse University with W.D. Snodgrass, who became another important influence. His previous poetry collections are Masaccio’s Expulsion, selected by Andrew Hudgins as winner of the Robert E. Lee and Ruth I. Wilson Poetry Book Award from MARGIE/IntuiT House, Rorschach Art from Red Hen Press, and the chapbook Bodies in the Bog, published by Texas Review Press. A past Individual Artist Fellowship recipient from the state of Florida in both poetry and fiction, his poems and short stories have appeared in numerous journals, including The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, North American Review, The Paris Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, among others; and in the anthologies Don’t Leave Hungry, Fifty Years of Southern Poetry Review (Arkansas) and High Five: An Anthology of Fiction from Ten Years of Five Points (Carroll & Graf ). Mr. Gibson lives with his wife in Florida.


Winner of the 2009 Idaho Prize for Poetry selected by Carolyne Wright


Take a carcass from a slaughterhouse
and set a bald tire around its waist,
then stand it on a wooden platform.
This is Rauschenberg’s Monogram,
an Angora goat stuck inside a tire, paint
splatter, and the artist’s penchant for the absurd
that somehow come together as sense
and inevitability, much like traffic accidents
do when you’re driving past, and the word
fuck pops out of your mouth because
you’re amazed and grateful. This Iraq war
has had me feeling this way since before
the looted Ur treasure didn’t include that lapis
and gold statue of a goat caught in a copse.