Poetry. Award-winning poet Jeff Worley returns with a chapbook of short poems, several previously published but all brought together here for the first time. The result is a distillation of his ever-present wit and scattered bits of wisdom accumulated over seventy years, a spirit as pure and clear and bracing as any backwoods liquor. In some poems he fondly recalls his parents, into whose lives he landed "like a sack / of old socks on their shoulders," and his Kansas boyhood. In others he laments the indignities of age, such as the loss of memory, the appearance of mysterious spots, or the waitress who tells him his eyes are beautiful, only to add "Ya know, you remind me of my grandfather." (Ouch!) In between we are treated to Worley's thoughts and observations on a number of topics, a reminder that some of the best poems are indeed LUCKY TALK, the title
borrowed from William Stafford who described poems as "pieces of talk, savored and sustained." Here that talk ranges over cats and snowflakes, deer and quilting bees, UFOs and turtle shells, a declaration of faith and the "cosmic observation" that "The stars increase their twinkling / the more I increase my drinkling." In the end, these poems are a feat not unlike that of Eunice Winkless and her 1905 ride on the back of a diving horse, "determined to take / the whole whooping crowd with / her, make them never forget..." Prepare to do some whooping, as Worley rides these words. You won't forget them.
Jeff Worley, Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2019-2021, is the author of six books of poetry and an anthology from University Press of Kentucky titled What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. His book The Only Time There Is won the Mid-List Press first-book competition. Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern was named 2006 Kentucky Book of the Year in Poetry, won the 2006 Society of Midland Authors Award, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Worley has received numerous other awards for his writing, including three Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship; over 500 of his poems have appeared in literary magazines and journals. He divides his time between Lexington and a cabin at Cave Run Lake.