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Though War Break Out Paperback – June 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


In a letter Tolstoy wrote late in life to his wife, he laughs at his past naïve and foolish belief that he could easily set up an "honest little world and lead a peaceful, quiet, faultless life beyond reproach." He knows, finally, that to live an honest life, he must "struggle, stray, do battle, make mistakes, begin, give up, start over, quit again, fight and love without end." This kind of honesty lies at the heart of the Psalms and at the heart of this book and the whole series of which it is part. As Davis well knows, "We test positive for impurity." These are poems that refuse "to bypass our humanity" as they seek to find some relief for all that "drains the soul of [its] will to persevere." And while they are meditative responses to the Psalms in the tradition of the lectio divina, that fact does not capture the ways his poems zip from one dimension of our experience to another, combining a street smart, popular culture patter with that fundamental Tolstoyan question, How, then, shall we live? I admire particularly Davis' casual humor, his reverent irreverence, his self-effacing grace, and the patient way he allows small things to yield their metaphysical correspondences. And I admire his righteous anger, his biblical sense of what is just and unjust, and the way his poems live so firmly rooted in the here and now without ever ignoring those realities that remain outside our words. --Bob Cording

Brad Davis writes the kind of poem I value most: one that is spoken straight from an open, compassionate heart and shot through with pure intelligence, acerbic wit, and self-displacement. His poems are infused with the transfiguring love he experiences for "whoever it may be who holds/all this in brilliant fullness." As I read the poems gathered in this first volume of Opening King David, I saw that most-privileged of poetic purposes fulfilled: the transmission of deep instruction on how to live with, and bear witness to, all the contraries and complexities of mortal existence. After nearly four decades of reading and studying poetry, I've found precious few contemporary collections that give as much as these poems give. --Gray Jacobik

In an era when subject matter is trivialized by obscurantists and/or trendy post-moderns, what a balm it is to encounter this collection of meditations. Reading Brad Davis' Though War Break Out, I feel, as the Psalmist himself has it, transported from the Pit onto a wide place. Like the Psalter itself, this book engages everything that matters in our human existence and manifests every mood in response to those matters, from self-anger to anger -- period -- to very exultation. It is the last of these, the exultation, that fills me when I see so fine an effort in print. --Sydney Lea


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Though War Break Out
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