66th out of 195 books — 143 voters
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When you sit down to read a book titled, 'Redneck Poems,' you sort of expect the pieces to be full of pickup trucks, beer drinking, backyard fucking, and a few yee-haws. Well there are no yee-haws in Mr. Barnes' collection but there is a truck, a couple of beers, and some serious backyard fucking. The thing is, these poems are not about trucks or beer or fucking; they're about the ways that people interact with each other, the things they do right and the things they do wrong, and the consequenc...more
I loved it. I mean, I didn't want to put it down and could have read another ten pages or more. Rusty Barnes certainly got my attention. Like he's the real deal and yet, can't help seeing the poet peeking out every once in a while; he has that strange, beautiful way of spinning out a homespun narrative in a down to earth way, but be careful of that carefully meted metaphor that sneaks in there and hits you over the head. Like wham! What happened? Like an epiphany out of nowhere but you get it, y...more
The main complaint I have on Rusty's books are, they're too dang short. I said this about Breaking it Down, I'm saying it again about Redneck Poems. Mr. Barnes writes folks well, has a spooky ability to get into the skin of any character, man, woman, child, and write them with vivid realism. Be warned, these are not always happy people, but the grit and resolve in which they plow through life in these poems is so inspiring you don't care whether or not they're happy. In fact, you kinda hope they...more
With a voice so original in every poem, from beginning to end ("Tony little girls in slim skirts/never really appealed; give/me bluegals with high-stockings and lovely round thighs/at two ayem in a stripmall/parking lot...Yeah, boy"), Rusty Barnes' "Redneck Poems" is one of those poetry books I can read all the way through, over and over again.
I'm not much into poetry as a rule, but this is just great. I especially loved 'Ode To ____'. A bunch of tight little tales that are just as likely to tug your heart-strings as to make you hurl. Bad and sad and stunningly evocative of a time and place. I wish this guy would write a novel. Failing that, just more stuff like this.
I've enjoyed Barnes's prose for some years now, but had no idea he was a poet as well. Now I know why I enjoy his prose--he has the heart of a poet. Besides being a perceptive writer, he has a gift in capturing youth and love in all its urgent, sloppy, dangerous, touching ways.
Rusty Barnes grew up in Mosherville, Pennsylvania. He received his BA from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his MFA from Emerson College. His work--flash fiction, fiction, poems--has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, among them Barn Owl Review, Pindeldyboz, Post Road, Red Rock Review, Salt Flats Annual, SmokeLong Quarterly and Wilderness House Literary Review. He edits the liter...moreMore about Rusty Barnes...