by Nathan McClain
Nathan McClain teaches at Hampshire College and is Poetry Editor of the Massachusetts Review. In his second poetry collection, he interrogates his speaker’s American heritage, history, and responsibility. Investigating myth, popular culture, and more, Previously Owned considers topics from police brutality to the author’s experience serving on jury duty. Throughout, the intensity of his attention and the profundity of his care remain constant — the final page describes a young girl in a diner, ringing the bell at the host stand, “just to hear it sing, the same / song, the only song // it knows.” Insofar as this collection scrutinizes one’s own culpability and responsibility in this country, interested in the natural world and beauty, as well as what beauty distracts us from, it does so in the hopes of reimagining inheritance, of leaving our children a different song.
See the Jones Library Antiracism Book List for recommended titles for all ages.