Ray McManus is the author of four books of poetry: Punch. (Hub City Press, 2014) Red Dirt Jesus (Marick Press, 2011), Left Behind (Steeping Stones Press, 2008), and Driving through the country before you are born (USC Press, 2007). His poetry has appeared numerous journals, most recently in Blue Collar Review, Barely South, The Pinch, Hayden’s Ferry, and moonShine Review. Ray is an Associate Professor of English in the Division of Arts and Letters at University of South Carolina Sumter where he teaches creative writing, Irish literature, and Southern literature, and he is the Creative Writing Coordinator for the Tri-District Arts Consortium. For more information check out Ray’s website: www.raymcmanuspoetry.com.
Book Title: Punch.
Ray McManus’s third book of poetry, Punch., is a call for the claw-hammer, a hymn to the steel toe, and a series of lonely missives from truck cabs and office cubicles. Punch. is a book about work, about the will that rises and the dust that falls. It is about being “lost, hungry, and hopeless, creeping toward the pipelines in a ’78 Buick Regal with Big Star on the radio.” Sometimes angry, sometimes darkly funny, these lean and muscular poems explore the world of punching in and punching out, the punch-drunk and the sucker-punched. Whether the poems are tightened by the rhythm of a hard hand, or the lines sprawl across the page with swagger, there is real music here. Brute voices, contemplative and haunting, speak to us with unwavering self-conflict and salty confidence. In these poems, life is a struggle and the end is already written, but there’s something deeply moving about the resilience and resistance of these voices: “Lunch won’t be here / for another hour,” one says, “so when the rain /comes, it is welcome.”