The first poem in this collection, which lends the book its title, is a treasure. Platt excels at taking a modest human, often familial, moment and exploding it to reveal the dense possibilities within. When his father, stricken with Alzheimer's, attempts to say grace but emits only "jabbering . . . his fuses all blown," Platt constructs a litany of all that he might be saying: "Praise be / to the salt / in its shaker for it brings out the truest taste of whatever / we eat" and "Glory be to the body, switchboard / that will finally / shut down." The rest of the book lives up to this grand opening, offering expansive long poems in eccentric triplets--one long, sweeping line sandwiched between two brief ones--that well captures the way ordinary life both confines and frees us. Whether writing about family birthdays or Janis Joplin, Platt shows life's pain, and its iridescence. Patricia MonaghanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This is a book of the highest lyric ambitions. Almost every poem, however plain-spoken its subject, sets itself challenges of language and order which are met head on. On almost every page there is a marvelous to-and-fro between darkness of lossa fathers approaching death, a brothers vulnerabilityand the exuberance of language, the sheer eloquence of organization which are no less than their due. These are wonderful poems; they make superb, wrenching reading.
Eavan Boland, author of Outside History: Selected Poems, 19801990 and Domestic Violence
Donald Platts poems are fearless and generous aria-narratives, each distilling complex essences into a single, telling scene; through their attentive particularities, universal colors emerge. The abiding affirmation in Donald Platts work is that whatever exists must be made welcome and known. The result is an optimistic book, full of compassion, interest, and sheen, in an age when an unblended optimism is much needed.
Jane Hirshfield, author of Given Sugar, Given Salt and After
Grief-struck and world-adoring, these poemsin their gorgeous and distinctive swelling and contracting tercetssay grace for a family struggling with a father's stroke and dementia, a brother's Down syndrome, a mother-in-law's terminal cancer. My Father Says Grace constructs its layer on layer of elegy in a fugue-like structure, with tenderness, humor, and startling intimacy. Platt's poems move beyond the personal circumstances of illness, loss, and proleptic grief toward something like an autobiographical metaphysics, meditating unflinchingly on a world of aging, death, and loss and saying, in its own devastating way, yes and amen.
--Bruce Beasley, author of Lord Brain and The Corpse