When asked in an interview with Gulf Coast, “What would Bob Hicok launch from a giant sling shot?” he answered, “Bob Hicok.” Elegy Owed is an existential game of Twister in which the rules of mourning are broken and salvaged, and “you can never step into the same not going home again twice.” His poems are the messenger at the door, the unwanted telegram—telling a joke, imparting a depth of longing, returning us finally to a different kind of normality where “the dead have no ears, no answering machines / that we know of, still we call.” There is grief in these poems, but it is a grief large enough for odd awakenings and the unexpected—a grief enlarged by music, color, and joy as well as sober wisdom.
“What Hicok’s getting at is both the necessity and the inadequacy of language, the very bluntness of which (talk about a paradox) makes it all the more essential that we engage with it as a precision instrument, a force of clarity, of (at times) awful grace.” —Los Angeles Times
“[A] fluid, absorbing new collection… Hicok gives readers unexpected conjunctions and oddly offbeat thoughts, most darkly whimsical, and has us embrace them wholeheartedly. If he can survive the scary carnival that is this world, we can, too. Highly recommended for a wide range of readers.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Hicok’s poems about mortality and loss take on a vibrancy of their own, with a rhythm and humor that seems to fall into place by mere, desperate momentum.” —Publishers Weekly