Rarely has a first book of poems been more exalted than Gabrielle Calvocoressi's The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, which the Times Literary Supplement called "an excoriation of present-day America by a new and lethal commentator." Now, in this extraordinary follow-up, Calvocoressi continues her mission to document the particular hardships of derelict American small towns.
These, though, are different poems, their lens cracked and turned on a narrator seeking her own deliverance from abandonment and violence. Battered but never beaten, this narrator finds salvation in ecstatic communion with the gods of jazz and especially boxing: "O Tommy Hearns, O blood come down," she prays. "Find your way to Hungerford where my/father glowers over me. Show him/how the bag does penance." In such prayers she finds the strength to survive the home she has to leave and, once she does, the strength to face the fires she finds flaring the country over, from Los Angeles to Laramie. Apocalyptic Swing is a work of unbelievable force, a devastating and glorious testimony about America--its lore, disappointments, and promise.