We nefarious but secretly benevolent conspirators at Atticus Review have always been committed to presenting a range of voices and styles. On the poetry end, that usually means accepting (at most) no more than one poem per batch, even if there are others we like. Recently, though, [AR publisher] Dan Cafaro hatched a plan for world domination that featured a lot of lasers and Manchurian candidates, plus a bit about launching a special, monthly Poetry Feature wherein I would be able to spotlight more work from a submitter whose work simply knocked me on my ass.
That’s a tall order. I’m something of a snowflake deep-fried in cynicism, but there’s nothing like that Zen-like blend of intellectual bliss and primordial rapture that comes with reading a great batch of poems. And that’s exactly the feeling I had when I came across Timothy Kercher’s work.
Right away, he impressed me with his range. “Shkhara Glacier” seems at first to be a pastoral poem, but beneath the lovely language (“the toad in the stream wrapped in water…”) there are hints—coincidentally reminiscent of Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory—of human frailty, of mortal limitations seen here not as a lamentation but as a kind of quiet celebration.
Then, in “Jonah and the Svanetian Towers” and my personal favorite, “Nobody Gets Lost,” Kercher takes his knack for alliteration, rhythm, and groovy line breaks and adds to that a touch of humor, using tongue-in-cheek observations to trick us into lowering our guard for the social and personal commentary that follows–which seems, oddly, both biting and forgiving.
Finally, in “Burn Pile,” Kercher takes a potentially dark scene and manages to give it an unflinching betrayal without resorting to the kind of cynicism we poets are so susceptible to—the result being that kind of rugged, honest redemption that poetry was probably fashioned for in the first place.
About the Poet: Timothy Kercher’s manuscript “Nobody’s Odyssey” was recently selected as a finalist for the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, and his translation of Besik Kharanauli’s long poem, “The Lame Doll,” is set to be published in the Republic of Georgia early next year. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of recent literary publications, including Crazyhorse, Versal, The Dirty Goat, VQR, Asheville Review, upstreet, Guernica, The Minnesota Review and others. He now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine with his wife and twin daughters.