Revising the Storm is one of the best first books I've read in a long time. Its subjects—childhood, an absentee father, marriage, divorce, remarriage, miscarriage, birth—are not new, but the approach is fresh, the language lyrical, the poems well-tuned and masterfully wrought. Geffrey Davis is spellbinding. He knows how to bring even the smallest heartbreaking detail to light. Tenderly but firmly, he leads us down many paths toward the center of a life. [...] There are delicate, intricate poems here, stormed by memory, always in motion. If the family is the greatest catastrophe, it is also the source of our most profound joy. Geffrey Davis reminds us how to survive and endure both. (Foreword)
―Dorianne Laux, author of Only as the Day Is Long
“In my previous life as a deer,” begins one of the many terrific poems here, “I honed my brand/ of nervousness, balanced instinct and memory.” It is as if Robert Lowell’s Life Studies was remixed for the contemporary moment as Geffrey Davis translates and transforms our contemporary modes of love, violence and history. Revising the Storm feels written by a poet who has traversed several previous lives and honed them into a language of beautiful survival. Urgent, tender, imaginative: this is a tremendous debut.
―Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets
Geffrey Davis interrogates masculinity—as brother, son, father, lover—to examine the sources of love’s enduring and failed aspects. Secular and sacred merge, when one speaker grieves a father’s “long romance/ with drugs” and another celebrates the man who “can rise, coughing/ from the ashes of himself.” An imaginative connection with nature evokes a “previous life as a deer” and the day the hunter “hit the muskiness of my hide// and the hot mercurial life beneath.” I admire Davis’ emotional vocabulary, his attentive generosity and tenderness. Keep your eye on this gifted newcomer.
―Robin Becker, author of The Black Bear Inside Me
In these passionate and patiently crafted lyrics of male experience, the most urgent concerns always turn toward others. Revising the Storm has more substance, more searching and satisfying insight, and more emotional intelligence than most first collections. You will want to read it more than once.
―Julia Spicher Kasdorf, author of Poetry in America
Geffrey Davis is very much a poet who faces his terrors. He speaks of an intricate world of men—scarred fathers, scared sons, and sacred brothers—and devoted, protective, hurt women—mothers, nieces, lovers. With an unpretentious, buoyant lyricism, Davis tells stories that understand and understate the connections of living with family and loves, connections that are troubled yet unbreakable, connections that illuminate the difficult joys of being alert to poetry and life.
―David Biespiel, author of Charming Gardeners
...A finely wright meditative collection that calls to mind poets such as Carl Phillips and Jay Wright—yet, with his own concerns, and his own elegant phrasing. There's a classic feel to his poetry—yet he doesn't feel staid or stodgy in his lines or stanzas. It is a book that wears its poetic finesse lightly.
<<Hurston/Wright Legacy Award poetry judges>>
...What is most striking about the poems, individually and as a group, is their ability to maintain calm in the constant flux of the stormy weather they and their narrators inhabit. Davis takes us through the liminal spaces between experience and memory, compels us to listen as stories unfold, and reminds us to be mindful of silence and breath as landscapes spin out of control.
...Revising The Storm is one of those books of utterly complex simplicity. You think that Davis is operating with a new spectrum of light in order to see the black and white truth. He let's you believe those things, momentarily at least, and then educates the reader with an expansive understanding of all shades of grey.
<<Today's Book of Poetry>>
...Davis’ “place” seems to suggest that primal intersection of body, land, and word—an intersection where shame becomes wedded to our landscapes and our bones. Where, as he writes in “What I Mean When I Say Roller Pigeon,” “our obsessions can turn/ the miracle against itself.”
...These are poems for the ear and for the heart [...] Like a true modern romantic, his speakers are determined to love the world, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
...when rendered in verse by a talented poet such as Davis, readers bare witness with new eyes [...] a considerable collection replete with the dark troubles and misfortunes of life that only serve to make its moments of beauty that much brighter.
...Almost all of Davis’s poems deserve rigorous explication not because they are complex for complexity’s sake, but because of the many meanings and emotions they hold. In fact, their intricacy and sharpness caused me to question my role as the reviewer while writing this review.
...Davis’s lyrical debut is rooted in the tender memories of childhood [...] Signaling the frailty that we are made to feel when we’re vulnerable, these poems give voice to the important and powerful role of family.
...painful twists of reality and even sentimentality that make families too close for comfort yet often beyond reach [...] Davis’ poems are sweeping, lyrical glimpses into masculinity, violence, drug use, and history. These poems are fresh and well-chiseled in word and line [...] Davis, a gifted wordsmith, presents a wonderfully complex and entertaining debut.
...Continuously challenging himself to ‘[t]ell it right this time,’ Davis displays an elegant tenacity that begs to be unleashed on subjects beyond personal history.
...Never prosaic but always knowable, the collection is in itself a storm that passes slowly but never disappears entirely [...] It is a feat for Davis to create so much tenderness here without being precious. All his subjects, even the loathsome ones, are beloved. All his speakers are filled with hope, always seeking a new definition for humane, constantly revising the storms inside themselves.
HURSTON/WRIGHT LEGACY AWARD FINALIST IN POETRY
This debut collection by Cave Canem fellow Geffrey Davis burrows under the surface of gender, addiction, recovery, clumsy love, bitterness, and faith. The tones explored—tender, comic, wry, tragic—interrogate male subjectivity and privilege, as they examine their “embarrassed desires” for familial connection, sexual love, compassion, and repair. Revising the Storm speaks to the sons and daughters affected by the drug/crack epidemic of the ’80s and addresses issues of masculinity and its importance in family.