“Among other things, Shepherd has always been an elemental poet. His work abounds with the imagery and motifs of water and fire, and while those elements are important here, it is air and earth that are the more dominant elements in this collection. . . .
Clay, red clay in particular, recurs several times throughout the collection as a motif of earth. It is the substance of creation, but always of impermanent things, whether heroes or Babylonian statues with feet of clay, or of things durable but fragile, such as the cuneiform tablets of ‘A Parking Lot Just Outside the Ruins of Babylon.’”
—Robert Philen, from the Foreword
I'm forever grateful to University of Pittsburgh Press and Robert Philen for Red Clay Weather. Reginald Shepherd's poetry is pearl-like: vulnerable and enduring, an iridescent response to the world's potential threat and damage. His work is exquisite, unabashed, encompassing, real, and all too rare, an extraordinary natural artifact of existence.
Reginald Shepherd's full contribution to his art and his community will take some time to become clear, but this book goes a long way toward that clarity. These poems are filled with a terrible brilliance, as when he says: 'Nurse says she recognizes me in light's edict.' We who watched the work appear over the decades recognize him here, making his love to the language, sharing his dreams and ambitions for it.
These last poems put Shepherd's careerlong synthesis of classical imagery, African-American history and experience, contemporary language, and edgy aesthetics to new purposes. . . . Shepherd was a beloved and controversial poet; his voice will be missed.
Shepard was one of the finest young poets of his generation. Loud, proud, and obssessed with poetry, he knew how to awaken people with its power and how to destroy myths about the limits of language. His five books will stand the test of time as some of the best collections of the last 20 years.
['Red Clay Weather'] may be his best and most consistent collection; these lyrical testimonies move with great, surefooted earnestness and poignant musical clarity from one end to the other.
Reginald Shepherd (1963-2008) was the author of five previous books of poetry: Fata Morgana; Otherhood; Wrong; Angel, Interrupted; and Some Are Drowning. His work has been widely anthologized, and has appeared in four editions of The Best American Poetry and two Pushcart Prize anthologies.learn more