This book and I got very, very lucky. So grateful to each of these writers for their time, care, and thoughts. Also, Parasite Kingdom is available to order at The Word Works, right here. If you’re at AWP in Portland, you can find it and other amazing books at The Word Works’ table, T7082.
When insanity reigns in high places, and the culture has commodified human depths into glittering surfaces, when the Dow Jones serves as oracle, and reality reads from a script, perhaps we need most what Brad Richard works toward in Parasite Kingdom: a radical and instantaneous mytho-poesis that might give us perspective by breaking the whole damn thing apart. Taking both inspiration and refuge in Herman Melville—that fundamental chronicler of American unconscious—Richard gives us new apocrypha to ward off current apocalypse, offers us new symbols by which we might come to understand ourselves. Here the White Whale is replaced by the Parasitic Wasp, and the questions of unfathomable depths are replaced by questions of what has planted her eggs in our heads, and what life from them might emerge. Some of those lives, no doubt, are these very poems—as intricate and precise in their formal lives as the elegant casques of their totem wasps, us urgent as a sting, and furthering of genuine care—as a bee tends a field by burying itself in blossom—in the most unexpected of ways. As antidote is often made from the poison it counters, Parasite Kingdom gives us our needed dose, bitter to taste, but in the end, the truer vermifuge. —Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Mulberry; A Whaler’s Dictionary; This Nest, Swift Passerine; and Of Silence and Song.
A cart rattles into the palace courtyard and explodes. A doomed king blesses the children, then commands the citizens of his ruined nation to root out invaders. Sentries fix their sights on a little girl. And, burrowed among tunnels beneath the capitol, an enormous wasp flicks her antennae, pivots, and tests the air. In Parasite Kingdom, Brad Richard conjures up a wrecked world that is the twin of our own, but sifted through nightmare and apocalypse. Richly imagined and terrifying, this is a first-rate collection of poems. —Kevin Prufer, author of National Anthem, Churches, In a Beautiful Country, and How He Loved Them.
I didn’t read Parasite Kingdom, I entered it, lived there a while, and came away changed. Brad Richard has created a mythos that at first appears to be a warning about where our world is headed, yet reveals itself as a dirge for a way of being that we’ve not yet realized is gone. Parasite Kingdom uses the architectural tools of Moby Dick and Borges’ El Aleph in the construction of underground caverns where Richard’s poetry moves deftly, dangerously. A collection such as this could only have been written after the accretion of decades of reading, thinking, and writing. The Tenth Gate imprint exists in acknowledgement of precisely this kind of poetry: that borne only out of long gestation. —Leslie McGrath, author of Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage and Feminists Are Passing from Our Lives