Poetry. How entirely appropriate that Richard Carr should give the title character of his new poetry collection, FITZPATRICK, a name so rich in historical associations of scandal and transgression. For while we never meet this Rabelaisian artist in person, he fills our imagination through the impressions he leaves on those who know him best: his bartender, his friend (also described as a "bastard"), and his wife; and through his artwork in which the world depicted mirrors the mind of its creator. With an astonishing efficiency in these brief narrative poetic sketches (and perhaps a new genre of "imaginary ekphrasis" in the descriptions of Fitzpatrick's paintings), Carr has created a fully realized and larger than life personality, with his "iron tank of a belly," "drinking whiskey like a common man" but "happy if he painted," "the real thing" who with a breath could blow "the lights of a great city...into darkness" in his passing. In these poems, Fitzpatrick takes his place alongside the great artists conjured out of literary imagination (Joyce Cary's Gully Jimson and Iris Murcoch's Otto Narraway come to mind, among a host of others). The barroom setting of many of these poems recalls as well the many real artists who have debated art and life into the night and day again in cafes and taverns (the urban subjects of Fitzpatrick's paintings suggest he would have been at home in turbulent postwar bohemian New York). Most importantly, by framing his subject the way he does, Carr raises a crucial question: What evidence is there of our existence, except through the impressions we leave on others, and the work we leave behind? It's a heavy question, one deserving a beer while we contemplate it. Come in, have a seat at the bar, and meet a character you will not soon forget.
Richard Carr grew up in Blue Earth, Minnesota, and now lives in Minneapolis. A former systems analyst, web designer, and tavern manager, he has taught writing and literature at several universities and community colleges. In addition to the Washington Prize, awarded by Word Works for ACE, Carr's honors include the Gival Press Poetry Award for Honey and the University of North Texas Press Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry for Mister Martini. He has published widely in journals and anthologies, and his poetry collections include FITZPATRICK (Broadstone Books, 2018), Grave Reading, Lucifer, Dead Wendy, Imperfect Prayers, One Sleeve, ACE, Street Portraits, Honey, and Mister Martini. His chapbooks include Letters from North Prospect and Butterfly and Nothingness. Author City: MINNEAPOLIS, MN USA