Josh Rathkamp’s imagination is intimately related to the American southwest; of inhabiting the landscape itself, he asserts it is like “Living here on the moon.” For Rathkamp, a terrestrial muse has allowed “something altogether interior” to visit him in the poems. The language of Some Nights No Cars at All is plainspoken but emotionally charged. Rathkamp writes about love—both its pleasures and its difficulties—and of the strangeness of consciousness itself with a confidence that can only come from experience that’s been scrutinized and distilled. At first glance quiet and modest, these poems gather considerable force as the book takes us deeper and deeper into questions essential to us all.
Rathkamp is interested in using aspects of historical and contemporary American culture to investigate one another and, ultimately, comment on how they inform and influence human perception: “The experience of this landscape is confused by its actual history—on the one hand, geological, on the other hand, recent and territorial, and in the great middle ranges, the profound consciousness of Anasazi and Hohokam. They say, here, just to walk on the ground is to dream.”
“Disinterested in verbal idiosyncrasy, Josh Rathkamp writes poems that are minutely observant, tender, grave, and true. His vision is clear and telling, and the poems muse with natural grace over lives and encounters at a fairground, garage sale, lunch counter, neighborhood driveway, and interstate rest stop, during parades and road trips, in Mexico, Michigan, and Nice. We travel with him gladly, recognizing these personal places and seeing ourselves.” —Carol Frost
“Touching upon a medley of topics in everyday life, from getting directions, to interacting with a lunch lady who uses bad language, to listening to a duet on the radio… an eclectic medley combining slice-of-life storytelling with wistful emotion, and brimming with the earthy quality of the everyday human experience.” —Midwest Book Review
“The young poet has a decent sense of place, a sharp ear for creating descriptive urgency…” —Hippo
“The poems within Some Nights No Cars at All are poems of distance—the distance we have to travel to get to the person who resides within the same walls we do, the distance to overcome childhood bruises, to see things as they truly are and not as what they appear to be. They are poems that reveal the darkness of relationships, of the way we are apt to wound one another, the way we try to make up, succeed and fail, learn to muddle through and keep on going.” —Rattle