THAT NAKED COUNTRY
"The measure of a poet's character is his or her capacity to include others, their griefs, their joys, their hopes for a better country for their children. That Naked Country by Philip Raisor is a big-hearted book populatedby countless people on the verge of another life— rebels on the verge of another country remade by their will, violence, and hopes for justice. It's a book about enlarging America's character. The student protests of Kent State, Bacon's Rebellion, the Watts riots, Andersonville Prison, the First Serbian Uprising, the American Revolutionary War—these are among the points in time that the poems revisit to examine the spirit of humane progress, activism, and good citizenship. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, 'When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.' With its hard-earned kinship with historical wisdom, That Naked Country is full of startling and much needed illuminations." David Fenza, author of The Interlude and former executive director of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)
Philip Raisor's narrator in That Naked Country, challenged in his own time to choose silence or commitment, lumbers through history's debris in search of the conditions that unleash rage against social norms. From Pometheus' secret swipe of fire for humans to Makeda's resurgent voice in Charlottesville, from the last-straw invasion of rebels in Boston Harbor to incendiary assaults in Watts, citizens claim rights to self-definition, even if the result is failure. To be alone in this quest is to be everyone.
"Like Woody Guthrie, one finds Philip Raisor holding back the end of the world. His poems slow dance with the past, from the American Revolution to another black body lying on the ground. Raisor ponders the distance travelled between Crispus Attucks and Michael Brown. He measures the word revolution against the pulse of history. He writes as an elder observing the turmoil. It's not just the country that is naked, but, sadly, ourselves. Raisor reminds us that we have choices. History is still our home. We must do our best while being surrounded by crumbling buildings. We cannot continue to believe Canada is an option." E. Ethelbert Miller, host of On the Margins with E. Ethelbert Miller, WPFW 89.3
“In Outside Shooter Raisor . . . avoids the traps of egocentricity by making others in this story come to life and share the stage as far more than cardboard walk-ons . . . a book that matters sentence by beautifully-crafted sentence.” Sewanee Review