Out of Stock
Wayfarers and their songs, hobos and tramps and the codes they either espouse or deny – all figure prominently in this debut book of poetry by Jared Randall. With both ears bent to the Depression-era stories told among his family about America’s hard-working, migrant past, the poet nevertheless walks the tumultuous road of the here and now. Ranging from blank verse to sonnets to rambling free-verse stanzas, Randall takes a fresh look at the space between memory and recollection – between childhood and adulthood, and between generations separated by a century of social change and forgetfulness. Out of these tensions a voice emerges: the voice of the migrant worker, the vagrant and hobo who speak through “the dust of years.” The hobo carries more than his bedroll across his shoulders, and when he breaks his silence a disjointed vision of an American past spills out in lines both extravagant and clipped, just as the life of the road offers both freedom and hardship. All the while, the old code of the hobo asserts a commentary not to be denied. The hobo’s perspective merges with that of the recollecting poet as they together trace the forgotten way home in whatever boxcar of language will take them a little further down the road.
‘‘Only a hobo but one more is gone, leavin’ nobody to sing his sad song.’ Those lines from an early Bob Dylan song came to mind as I read Apocryphal Road Code, Jared Randall’s ambitiously conceived and artfully realized sequence. Randall is there to sing the sad song and more.’ —Stuart Dybek
‘A most desirable quality in lyric is that of strange familiarity. Jared Randall’s poems are wayfaring poems drawing on the hobo culture of the Great Depression, which means they bound to move on and bound to rest where they can. Without such bounds they find their various song. Formally the wayfaring rhythm shows in their alternation between pacy narrative and intricate traditional form. But throughout their demeanour is both curious and assured, so these are poems known to you before you know them. You are bound to read on and bound to stop here.’ —John Wilkinson