Codhill Poetry Award Winner 2018
In The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire, Robert Krut unveils surrealistic imagery and apocalyptic moments that encroach on his cityscapes. Entering his urban vision of off-kilter fingerprint police, helix fireworks, and lockboxes replete with “unsewn / buttons from the shirts of dead men” (“The Vault”), we are invited to witness how “daylight peels silence / off the sides of buildings” to reveal vampire teeth and arrows (“Phantasmagoria at Six AM”), how “every single body on the street / turns to paper” (“At This Very Moment”). Krut dismantles the world around us and in turn remakes it into something dark yet alive, a place seething with desire, where “A thousand leaves are worth one wish” (“This All Starts With You, and This All Ends With You”)
From the very first poem in this quiet and intimate collection, Robert Krut inventively crafts image after shape-shifting image, each suggesting an alternate universe designed to help us better understand our real one. From a preacher in a lentil rainstorm to a doorman wearing a hat full of beetles, we meet people (and see places) filled not only with what is real but with what is possible. Between these magical details runs a clear and steady narrative: a speaker who dons the “too-small sweater of summer.” Who knows that “danger isn’t a bomb, danger is a drip.” And who survives “this pension of suffering.” The graceful poems in The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire beautifully balance being both agent and acted upon. Krut is a poet of vivid imagery and distinctive voice.
—Patricia Colleen Murphy, Hemming Flame
Robert Krut’s newest collection, The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire, paints a landscape of imagination where the Lord of Time might be bargained with as we are left “waiting to be swallowed whole.” The seductive tactility of Krut’s language reminds us of our bodies, our bones and teeth, our veins and fingerprints even as we move among dragons and giant arachnids. A provocative pendulum swinging from fantasy to physicality and back again, these poems acknowledge our longing for escape but leave us with the inescapable conclusion that we are tethered now and forever to ourselves and to this blood-drenched world.
—KMA Sullivan, Inclined to Riot
A poem inside a poem is a guest, and Robert Krut’s new compilation The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire is worth putting the kettle on to serve. I am in awe at his ability with composing words, where the music from deep imagination comes easily to him. I’ve dined with these poems, went for long walks with “Now, Breathe Fire” and “Dear Demon” inside my coat pocket. I wrote his poem “Welcome” on a lotus leaf and posted it on my front door because it reminded that it is good to welcome the essentiality of darkness from time to time. Let these poems be lanterns to the door you are about to open. This collection is a treasure and good reason why we must keep on breathing.
—Sam Roxas-Chua, Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater