Stutter

Poems by William Billiter
Selected by Hilda Raz

Reviews

"In William Billiter's prize-winning book, Stutter, the voices seem to halt and syncopate. Yet readers never turn away from these voices, not once. . . . In Stutter, speech itself becomes subject, the pages' space and breadth giving language itself its holy stutter and magic. This book is truly divine. I loved it as all readers must."
—Hilda Raz, Luschei Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and editor of Prairie Schooner

"Because of Billiter’s Stutter we meet Scooter, Blake, Moses, Stutter, Stink, Lloyd, Ersel, Willy, Niebuhr, and Gethsemane, and we have seats reserved for us: Section 3, Row Q, Seats 11 & 12. Meanwhile we learn that a flinch is a kind of echo and an echo is what one man needs to register depths of knowledge about family, fathers and sons, confessions, and the future. Stutter’s a shapely, resonant, heartbreaking book."
—Dara Wier, author of Reverse Rapture


Description

Billiter’s poems, spaced to stutter on the page, create a compelling yet dark world of small-town childhood that is disorienting and not all that bucolic. The town of Shinbone is an intense place: boys set bottles of cheap aftershave on fire, which segues with uncomfortable ease into grandmother’s killing axe dispatching chickens and Soup’s hand shredded in the corn dryer.

This collection pushes a recollected past to an extreme, replacing memory with myth and lacing narratives of disfigurement, accident, wildness, and murder with a strange enchantment. Childhood here is no idyll, but rather the dreamlike entryway to the desires, doubts, and dismay of adulthood.

From “Acolytes at the Altar”

Under the trestle,    them carps are big    as possums and bite
on doughballs. It’s cane    poles and red pop    all afternoon.
Stink says they got    a mud vein like a catfish.    I don’t
bother to check.    Stink says they’s really    just giant goldfish,
same as you    win at the fair in them    little bowls of colored
water. They    just be bigger,    that’s all, he says.

Series/imprint:
The National Poetry Series

Page count: 72 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5

 



Paper
List price: $19.95
978-0-8203-3881-1
4/1/2011

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William Billiter is Director of Foundation, Corporate, and Government Relations at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.