paper • 58 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-75-8

Add to Cart

Violent Blues

Bruce Willard

Violent Blues is a blues-harp album of words, a soundtrack of loss, introspection and renewal– one man’s search for intimacy and enduring music. Its poems are rooted in the natural world and tethered by concrete experience.

“Revision,” from Violent Blues:

Mid-February revealed in red: correction,
cardinal, blister, rose, store-front
heart, snow sunset, scarlet
lingerie on white skin.

Lone bonsai, indoors, ever-
green edged in rust,
its limbs overreaching
its given space. Time

for pruning. Here,
close to the branches,
the quick, turned
joinery and excess.

How seasoned these bloodless cuts,
these short and blessed days.







About the Author


  • “Willard plays the notes in-between—the awakenings, loves and losses, the slippages between two blurred bodies of life, of sending and receiving—that is, the 'un-understandable,' perhaps like Thelonius Monk's fractured piano, the one that flames in the center of being, meaning and enlightenment. This is also a mouth-held blues harp of words, ultimately not made of words, it is more an 'alluring paleness,' a riff of life-death's 'impossible finishes,' a streaked-night asphalt. I am struck by the sincerity of the voice here, the relentless set of mind-heart puzzles, the tender, wisdom-lit aloneness in this collection. Each poem, in a way, is a deep breath koan that musics-in-out from sea depths, dream echoes—the 'pressure' of existence and non-being—yet all is alive as cherimoya, jacaranda, and jasmine. This is a rare gift, a magnificent wave of poems that will move with you forever.” — Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate
  • “Most readers will admire those poems in Bruce Willard's Violent Blues whose vanishing points lead back to the unabated joy of self-reflection and the endlessly beautiful sound of modern life suddenly cast in light. Yet, these blue notes are singular and honor the earned truths of marriage and fathering, and name one’s errors with a poignant dignity. To which I say, snap your fingers, close your eyes, and nod along to its exquisite and pitch perfect lyric moods.” — Major Jackson
  • “I read Violent Blues with great pleasure. Then I read it again with even more. Its poems are vivid and surprising. A trampoline can become a metaphor for the rhythm of our lives. His poems have a fine haptic quality—made of things real and things imagined to make them even more real. They find their way in the course of their unfolding and make their own fine music as they go.” — Dan Gerber
  • "Perfectly tuned language and rhythm; many readers will identify with Willard’s quietly troubled thoughts and small-town settings." — Library Journal Read the full review here.

Also by Bruce Willard