Published by: Wayne State University Press
Brakefield says a man can't be ‘anything that doesn’t / move for fear / of standing still’ and all sound, all music, is motion, the cure for stillness. But these poems occupy both states equally: the ways we craft sound and story to crowd out silence and fear, and the stillness that precipitates but also defines whatever music we can manage. Here, the necessary paradox is sweet and stark, carefully tuned to its places of origin, and the people— here and gone— whose echoes haunt them.
– Raymond McDaniel, author of The Cataracts
Like the great Alan Lomax, Russell Brakefield has traveled through rural Michigan making "field recordings." He listens to the music and to the instruments that make the music (the double bass "gathers up grace" – which seems the perfect description of those notes!). And he talks to the people who make the music and the listen to it. These poems don’t forget the shores and the birch trees, the sea birds or "the clumsy pub." He tells us that in "this Peninsula I’m no more minstrel than ghost,/minor chord blue note." I don’t think Russell Brakefield’s chords, his poems, are minor at all; they are strong and clear and make the necessary music.
– Keith Taylor, author of The Bird-while
Russell Brakefield is that rare, best kind of poet whose insights can change the world for his readers, who unveils the wild surprises and lurking dangers behind the seemingly familiar. Beneath his "buildings falling into pieces" there is the "rapture of foundations, / a storm of rust // and bodies raining up / against the sky." The world becomes clearer, stranger, and more uncanny as we read this poetry. Brakefield astonishes again and again in Field Recordings--a book full of individually riveting pieces, but one which, as a whole, casts a serious spell with its accumulating music and beauty and everyday sacredness, with its sacred, ordinary horror and wonder. Brakefield has written one of the strongest and most subtle collections of poetry I’ve read in a long time. This a collection to which one will return again and again, becoming ever more impacted by its power and more appreciative of the serious talent of this poet.
– Laura Kasischke, author of Where Now: New & Selected Poems
"With folk music as his guide, Brakefield traverses the Great Lakes region in these poems, from its primordial beginning to its modern days. . . . Deeply rooted in its oral histories, Brakefield's collection sings." – ALA Booklist