Down to the Quick

Review: Town Topics: “Giving Voice to the Disenfranchised Poet Nancy Scott Discovers Her Own” by Linda Arntzenius


When Balfour Calls

he calls from a rehab center,
third one this year,
his voice echoing
like the underground oil drum
unearthed from our property,
black gunk oozing
through subterranean crevices.

What am I supposed to say?
If I set up an oil rig, I’d be rich
instead of those jackals
with (de)calibrated instruments,
deep in the pockets of the EPA.
Gee, I’m happy to hear from you,
whyinhellcan’tyougetyourlifetogether?

Silence.
I calculate. It’s October.
This call will cost me sneakers,
sweats, a winter jacket,
boxed and mailed.
Are you mad at me? he asks.
No. I’m glad you’re safe.


Ordering Information

From the battles for civil rights and equal rights, to war and its aftermath, to the enduring tragedies of drugs, racism, poverty, and disease that play out daily in American cities, to the interior dramas of her life, Nancy Scott opens our eyes through the compassionate lens of her poetry. With a deceptively stoical tone, Down to the Quick reveals a sharp-eyed poet’s sensibility deftly applied to the social realities and cultural shocks of the second half of “the American century.”

Sander Zulauf, editor, Journal of New Jersey Poets

A terrific debut book of poems. Whether Nancy Scott is writing about city streets, war veterans, memorable characters, her childhood, or her many years spent finding Section 8 housing for low-income families, her poems are filled with an uncommon engagement and magic. The magic comes from the language: condensed lines, clear and powerful imagery, unique ways of looking at people and social situations, mental leaps from one line to the next, and surpise phrasings and poem-endings. The book is both an accessible joy and an unpredictable jolt to read.

Eliot Katz, author of Unlocking the Exits

Copyright Nancy Scott, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-891386-63-3, 108 pages, $14.95, Plain View Press, Austin, TX.
Original cover art: The Closing Night Party, Community Art Project, de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA. ©Kurt Stoeckel and Martin Whitney.