Praise for Leviathan-
“Blake Kilgore writes with the fierce energy of a man unafraid to look down the throat of Leviathan. These poems of doubt and faith find in the violence of nature echoes of the struggle in every human heart and connect us to birds, trees, and the creatures of the deep in a sustained lyrical theodicy. These poems are both punchy and meditative, searching and wise. “
-Benjamin Myers, Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature
Oklahoma Baptist University
“These earthy poems ground us in the world of the concrete while simultaneously exploring complicated questions without offering cheap answers. Beyond the specificity of subject matter and imagery, Kilgore displays keen attention to the sounds of each line; these are not poems to read silently or passively. And if the universal can be found in the particular, these poems in all their particularity surely convey much about the human condition in all its difficulty and wonder.”
-Nathaniel Lee Hansen - Editor, The Windhover
“I want to be old, full of days, / a clear-hearted song of hope upon my lips. The lines close “Prayer of a History Teacher,” and their sense animates each poem in Leviathan, a new collection of verse by Blake Kilgore. In forms ranging from free verse to rap, Kilgore’s poetry voices a longing for innocence, clarity, and redemption that is profoundly personal and candidly spiritual.
Throughout, relationships serve as seeds of contemplation: parent and child, lover and beloved, human and nature, man and God. Anger, anguish, fear, and bewilderment pervade, yet their turbulence crests in sudden solace. Readers in an age of leisurely nihilism may flinch at the intensity and spirituality at work in Kilgore’s writing. That their discomfort may give way to quiet curiosity is, perhaps, the poet’s intent.
-Elise Matich – Editor, The Remembered Arts Journal
“Leviathan, Blake Kilgore’s powerful debut collection of poems, revels in small, stunning wonders of a big, broken world. A lone tree in Hell’s Kitchen. Twisted telephone lines. A crestfallen history teacher.
Dripping with the ink of a preacher's Sunday sermon, Kilgore's diction crosses sacred with secular. Exaltation with sadness. Earthiness with the divine. These poems testify while questioning faith, redemption, identity, and love in tightly crafted verses reminiscent of Emily Dickinson.
Lyrically brave, vulnerable, and introspective Leviathan spells the beauty and tension of ordinary experiences as it’s poems gracefully search for a place of mercy and peace.”
-Jay Armstrong, Bedtime Stories for the Living
“To enter into the poems of Blake Kilgore’s collection Leviathan, is to be consumed by them, is to all at once race toward exaltation and brace oneself for the fall. At every step, we are met with challenges of faith that invariably become our own, where each of us must “clamber down into the dark, searching for the heart of the world,” or suffer the consequences of our refusals.
The voice in these poems is severe, unfaltering, unapologetic, and imbued with resolve even when absolution seems unattainable—a voice willing to “wrestle with blame . . . until the end” no matter the outcome because it is in the wrestling that the good is done. But the poet makes one thing undoubtedly clear by the book’s end, that we must turn “Into the Howl” and face that which shapes us against our permission to reclaim the narrative, and if we ever feel undone, “there is another boot mark on the upward trail,” a reminder that we are on the right track, that there is no “Failed Expedition of a Skeptic.”
-Ralph Pennel – Editor, Midway Journal