Bob Hicok is at his generous best in Hold, his ninth collection. In poems that move nimbly between childlike revelry and deadly serious introspection, Hicok recounts days of contradiction, such as a bright blue sky above the violence of white supremacy. What does it mean to love this birdsong world while rejecting its cruelties? Hold points to the essential work of humankind as we “vacillate between killing / everything we see and trying / to have a conversation with the clouds,” balancing a frank sense of personal responsibility with imagination, joy, and humility.
“Hold… urges readers to consider our faults as a nation—environmental destruction, gross financial inequities, police brutality. By turns wry and witty, Hicok’s plain-spoken writing highlights some of the pleasures and pains in this world, and humanity’s need for reflection.” —Washington Post
“In Bob Hicok’s Hold… the poet’s humor, punning, wit, wisdom, and humility lead to small revelations, introspections, and musings on the human condition—all in the face of danger and atrocity. If Hold asks many questions throughout, they are not rhetorical, nor are they theoretical—instead, they’re practical questions about our world. In a unique blend of punchline and sincerity, Hicok confesses, ‘I’m scared, but not shitless.’ As its title might suggest, this book yearns for and struggles to hold strong to self and to community, to hold to the body, to hold to the world, to hold—yes—to optimism, to hope.” —Arkansas International
“Bob Hicok is a spectrum… I’d love to see an MRI of his brain while he’s writing, as the neurons show us what’s possible, how a human can be a thought leader, taking us into the future… Hicok interrogates the world with mercy and wit and style and intelligence and modest swag. He’s one of America’s favorites—and to make the reader want to share the poet’s reality fulfills poetry’s finest aspiration.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“In his ninth collection, Hicok navigates a world bereft of empathy and kindness, leading by example with a charm and emotional intelligence that speaks to a deep insight into the human condition… Mixing cleverness with tenderness, Hicok demonstrates how to be a beacon of light in the darkest of settings.” —Publishers Weekly
“As always, the multi-award-winning Hicok manages to be both freshly whimsical and knife-sharp insightful in his latest collection.” —Library Journal
“Bob Hicok is that rarity, a cheerful contemporary poet―if not completely happy, still hopeful and celebrative.” ―Los Angeles Review of Books
“Yet ultimately the most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok’s compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there’s almost no problem that can’t be solved by this poet’s gentle humor.” ―New York Times Book Review