All You Ask for Is Longing: New and Selected Poems

Sean Thomas Dougherty. BOA (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (202p) ISBN 978-1-938160-30-1
A blue-collar, Rust Belt romantic to his generous, enthusiastic core, Dougherty has filled eight prior volumes with character sketches, pool hall odes (he now works in a pool hall), vaunting declarations, outcries, celebrations, protests, and promises, “in the rusting cities in the rusting places where we leaned against the wall, in the smoky haze of bar smoke and breath.” Dougherty’s long Technicolor lines and staunch prose blocks (and the occasional shorter form) cover sex, parenthood, street life and playground basketball, skateboards, shoplifters, and the prison-industrial system; his portraits “Drawn In Blue Light and Broken Glass” include a “chick… who didn’t make the cue ball dance, she made it tango,” “your father working in the mines,/ rising to punch a clock”; they coalesce into a gloriously troubled American of black and white, Puerto Rican and Korean, of “brown children whose English teachers have silenced the Trinity of Spanish, English & Lebanese.” And for all their street energy they are determinedly literary as well: name checking Lorca, Neruda and Bjork, as well as Martin Espada and Patricia Smith, Dougherty (Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line) also accomplishes a brace of sonnets, an abecedary and a canzone whose repeated end-words are “bodega,” “booty” and “hood.” The Erie, Pa. writer wears his heart on both sleeves—he is not for everyone: but readers in search of socially conscious vigor, of street energy and “something to hold onto,” may find that Dougherty is just what they need. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-938160-31-8
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