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Selected Poems (2006-2013) by Ken Fontenot

Ken Fontenot’s fourth book of poems continues the fine balance of “things both practical and sublime” that he developed with subtlety and flare in his previous book, In a Kingdom of Birds—poems that explore the personal as well as the grander themes of life, with music presiding. “The songs of my time insist we listen attentively. / Take Fleetwood Mac. They incite, almost all melody, / which is the pie’s filling, the alcohol in a mixed / drink.”

Images of childhood (gathering eggs, his grandfather’s tractor, butchering a hog) and wildlife (hummingbirds, hyenas, lions, snakes) share meditations with figures encountered during a learned life—Beethoven, Goethe, Shakespeare, Mahler, Brahms, Bruckner, Buddha, Whitman, Melville, Aristotle. “Mostly, / though, I would have wanted Boccherini’s dates: / 1743-1805. Was it a great time to be alive? / Of course, the music itself seems to say so.”

And throughout—he weighs and balances a lifetime of choices. “I wanted to have a distinct plan, yet it changed / as I changed. Even the pines were insightful. / And the cows returned to the barn in their slow way.”


“Fontenot’s keen observation and original intelligence make his poetry well worth reading and a joy to examine … southern regionalism combines with cosmopolitan sensitivity.”—HARRY DE LA HOUSSAYE, XAVIER REVIEW

“For Fontenot, the act of reading is one such expression of that desire: ‘Readers, after all, view the world most passionately­— / as if their own lives were at stake.’  And this stellar collection of Fontenot’s mature years fully persuades, by its metaphorical and imagistic thinking, that our own lives are truly at stake.­”—KURT HEINZELMAN, BORDERLANDS

“Any reader’s way of looking at and comprehending the world will be vastly expanded and improved by Fontenot’s fresh and thought-provoking poems.”—DAVE OLIPHANT, SOUTHWESTERN AMERICAN LITERATURE

KEN FONTENOT received an MA in German Language and Literature from the University of Texas at Austin and studied in Freiburg, Germany under a DAAD fellowship. His novel, For Mr. Raindrinker, is set in 1970s New Orleans. His second book of poems won the Austin Book Award, and his third won the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters award for best poetry book in Texas. His translations of contemporary German poems have appeared widely. He recently translated Wilhelm Genazino’s novel, Women Softly Singing. A native New Orleanian, he lives and works in Austin, Texas.


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In a Kingdom of Birds (2012)


6"x9" paperback

88 pages