Honest Engine

Kyle Dargan

Poetry that grapples with loss and mortality in a radically honest way


"This Honest Engine is unafraid. It asks questions that men rarely ask: Is there a cure for patriarchy? 'Must I also think like a fist?' Will grief and loss swamp us? Sometimes, true, with the poet we wrestle despair, 'tumbling from an apex of grace.' But memory can restore, can 'make enough flames bloom.' Indeed, Kyle Dargan’s stunning, hurting poems bring us finally to a wary hopefulness that we might begin, at last, to reach across our divisions, racial and otherwise."
—Sarah Browning, executive director of Split This Rock and author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden

"Honest Engine reveals Kyle Dargan to be a poet fully in command. He marshals the resources of sound and line and syntax into lucid and quietly insistent poems that soldier through loss and wonder to a kind of peace. And yet Dargan’s command, urgent as it is, comes with a beautiful humility. I am awed by this book’s wisdom and calm clarity and moved by its faith. I will read it again and again."
—Keith D. Leonard, author of Fettered Genius: The African American Bardic Poet from Slavery to Civil Rights

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In this his fourth collection, award-winning poet Kyle Dargan examines the mechanics of the heart and mind as they are weathered by loss. Following a spate of deaths among family and friends, Dargan chooses to present not color-negative elegies but self-portraits that capture what of these departed figures remains within him. Amid this processing of mortality, it becomes clear that he has arrived at a turning point as a writer and a man.

As the title suggests, Dargan aspires toward an unflinching honesty. These poems do not purport to possess life’s answers or seek to employ language to mask what they do not know. Dargan confesses as a means of reaching out to the nomadic human soul and inviting it to accompany him on a walk toward the unknown.

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Page count: 96
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


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Kyle Dargan’s poetry collections include Logorrhea Dementia: A Self-Diagnosis (Georgia); Bouquet of Hungers (Georgia), which received the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and The Listening (Georgia), which was a winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He is the former managing editor of Callaloo and the founder and current editor of POST NO ILLS magazine. He is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at American University.