WARD is a wonder, a consuming personality conjured through crisp imagery and deft humor. Poetic persona or alter-ego? Who cares? Ward is as real as a bruise, and as I read these poems, he stumbled into and through me. —Matt Rasmussen
In the traditions of John Berryman’s Dream Songs and Weldon Kees’ portraits of Robinson, Ryan Vine brings us WARD, a tragi-comedic marvel of the lyric/narrative species. Vine’s character Ward has a unique, sardonic take on self-examination—nor does he spare others his laser-like critique. The poet unifies these poems of varying lengths and structures by making them muscularly musical. And the pacing is tight as a steel trap. Vine’s metaphors can startle and thrill, as when in “Good Ward Hunting” he brings Thomas Wyatt’s erotic images up to the minute in a figure of wounded love. Whether Ward is trapped in a cellphone’s “anti-light” or dismal workplace exchange, these poems make us feel for Vine’s vivid character and, by art’s alchemical extensions, for ourselves. —Kathleen Winter
In this new chapbook, Ryan Vine charts a course through the enchanting, infuriating modes and mores that construct life in contemporary America: corporate consultation and short-order cooking, short-lived orgies and long-regretted decisions. Imaginative and fresh, WARD is a work of self-discovery. —J. P. Grasser
Ward available for Preorder HERE
From the first dark question to the last meditation on what infinity might be, this book invites us to explore with fearless compassion. What saves the narrator, and the reader, is the Northeastern Minnesota landscape: "the green sound the setting sun makes." Though the poet tells us, "I have no idea what form forgiveness takes" here is hope that the world we live in will circle around to love. —Judges' citation, NEMBA
To Keep Him Hidden delves into masculine disappointment amid the bleak beauties of the blue-collar upper Midwest in economic decline. Ryan Vine’s world of absent fathers and aimless sons sounds bleak, too, but it is not. It’s a whole and vibrant world brought to life and lit brightly by the poet’s piercing intelligence, compassionate wit, and buoyant insinuating voice. —Andrew Hudgins
The poems in To Keep Him Hidden struggle with a boyhood awash in desperation, friends who didn’t survive, the disillusionment of an entire generation (not to mention the self), and still learn how to live—not in vain, but freely and generously with compassion for the past and hope for the future. These are simply wonderful, memorable poems which will break your heart then mend it. —Mary Ruefle
Reading To Keep Him Hidden is like watching a man tear himself free from a thick wrap of tangled vines. Working-class machismo plus alcohol plus Catholicism have woven a spirit-killing trap that our protagonist has to escape, by way of courage and imagination. The poems convey the stress of outgrowing one’s origins without betraying them. It’s a drama that Ryan Vine explores without sentimentalizing and without self-vaunting: not an easy feat. Vine hits notes of bleak elegy like those in the best dark songs by Bruce Springsteen. —Mark Halliday
Ryan Vine has given us a book of hard-won poems. These are painful and dark encounters, sometimes unrelenting in their probing of human descent. And yet, even in this deep darkness some kind of hope emerges. Perhaps that is the work of true art. Certainly it is the exalted work of the human spirit. But I think this book, wisely and beautifully, combines the endeavors of the spirit with the endeavors of art. The result is arresting. Here, pain is replaced with compassion, and grief is restored by love. And faith is involved, even if it comes with uncertainty. But that is the nature of poetry, and this is a book full of it. —Maurice Manning
Purchase TO KEEP HIM HIDDEN HERE
Ryan Vine has localized many of the distances our lives traverse; his words lead us back to an unfaced reality. To Ward, the poet's persona hero, these to-ward directions bear both in- and out-ward, confronting himself with himself. Readers will find their ways in these arrivals.
These poems take us to a world unlike any other: a world of bonfires, kazoos, shortwave, and a tragi-comic character named Ward. Ryan Vine's work is lively, tough and wise, and Distant Engines marks the debut of an important poet.
Ryan Vine's poems are precisely expressed and precisely envisioned. His ear and eye are first rate. In addition, the poems are a pleasure to read, often a rarity these days. Distant Engines is a wonderful beginning. —Stephen Dobyns
The poems in Distant Engines are lean, direct, unsentimental, even gritty. We’re taken to the bars and ore docks, to the jetty, to a “Sunday night at Centerfolds,” out to Morgan Park and the steel mill, to an old downtown Duluth that’s more alive at midnight than it is at noon. We spend a hard night out with these poems, but by morning we feel we’ve learned something not just valuable but essential: Life is difficult; poetry is required. —Connie Wanek