paper • 76 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-60-4

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Boys of My Youth

Rebecca Okrent

In these poems Rebecca Okrent rescues significance from the ordinary accumulation of days and losses that mark the passage of time, recapturing for herself and for her reader the reverence felt in childhood when everything held meaning. The poems emerge from moments when nature or experience insist: “I have something to tell you.” Okrent rides the tide of mourning to arrive on solid ground, and celebrates the stillness that comes with slack tide: “All is becalmed in a suspension / of time before the tide’s turning. / The world’s abyssal intake of breath, / then lamentation.”

“Danse Macabre”, from Boys of My Youth:

Daylight is ferocious,

tears at intention

as a lioness her kill,

so by nightfall resolve

is a carcass, again

you wreath remains

in smoke and ashes, bleach

the bones in bourbon

smut your face in entrails

and pronounce the layers of dark

you fall through


Praise by Peter Campion
Praise by Henri Cole
Praise by John Skoyles
Praise by Vijay Seshadri
Praise by Linda Pastan
Praise by Lynn Domina for The Kenyon Review

“‘True love is the very opposite of safe,’ Rebecca Okrent writes in the opening lyric of Boys of My Youth. In poems of familial and romantic connection, in moments of mourning and of hilarity, Okrent’s riskiness proves her a true love poet. That boldness provides for her extraordinary tonal range, as well as her beguiling facilty with line and phrase. IF she plumbs the depths of loss, she also celebrates the fruits of labor rightly won, offering her reader a delicious mingling of thought and feeling. American poetry is richer for this book.” — Peter Campion

“Whether writing as a mother, daughter, or wife, Rebecca Okrent is an intelligent, sensible poet. She is as open to affliction as love, and I admire that in these pellucid, beautiful poems.” — Henri Cole

“A saucy wit and daring verve permeate the lively, sometimes brooding poems of Boys of My Youth. The resulting collection surprises, delights, and unsettles. In Rebecca Okrent’s hands, the examined life is well worth living, and the reader closes the book renewed and affirmed by the power of her art.” — John Skoyles

“The balance and sure-footedness of Rebecca Okrent’s poetry are all the more remarkable because she accommodates in her beautiful, elegantly furnished interiors not just the abundance and fulfillment of experience but also its wrath. ‘Downriver, crocodiles wait,’ she writes at one point, but she is not afraid, she knows how to handle them.” — Vijay Seshadri

“There is a rough honesty to these poems, even though their language can often be delicate: ‘the robin’s canticle…’ the horseshoe crab ‘with undersides / ruffled like pages.’ Okrent’s voice is intelligent and perceptive, particularly when dealing with death or the darker side of sex. This a deeply felt book.” — Linda Pastan

“…Marianne Moore fans will enjoy the resonance of that poet’s work here, in unmarked allusion but also through the closely-observed rendering of plants and creatures. As Moore mixes appreciation and asperity, moreover, Okrent leavens grief with wonder and, in my favorite moments, impiety….” Read the full review.