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Cassie was never like the other girls. An orphan growing up on her grandfather Beeb’s farm, she was taught not only to cook and clean, but to repair tractors and dig trenches. When Beeb suffers a heart attack, it’s up to Cassie to run the farm on her own. At the same time, she discovers love and envisions her future. Growing up nearby is the poet himself, whose experiences and dreams parallel this unique, double-coming-of-age, novella in verse.

embracing the burlesque of collateral damage by Richard Fox

  • embracing the burlesque of collateral damage is a braided narrative, and the voice in the poems is the link between them. Richard Fox tackles fearlessly, in honest and beautifully crafted poetry, the intricacies and pain of love, family, acceptance and illness. His poems about cancer are particularly stunning.  At the end of his poem ‘The Dying Poets Society’ Fox asks an existential question that is both personal, and to those of us endeavoring to live and write in the shadow of cancer, universal: I wonder how many more times/I will shout from this stage/whether the poetry we crafted is destined for dust or anchors.”

    ~ Lori Desrosiers, Keeping Planes in the Air


    “When I choose the word ‘valuable’ to describe Richard Fox’s latest collection, embracing the burlesque of collateral damage, I do so deliberately, because to read these poems, which move the reader back and forth, sometimes dizzyingly, between the middle of the last century and the current day, is to receive gift after gift, courtesy of a writer whose wit, humor, and compassion are extraordinary. Whether the people you meet are women, men, and children with whom the speaker shares a cancer journey in 2019, or hippie comrades from half a century ago, these are beings you won’t soon forget. Some of the poems will wring your heartstrings; others will tickle your funny bone. Don’t read these poems unless you are willing to learn, body part by hospital stay by chemo treatment, what a cancer journey is really like, when it is being lived and observed by someone who is paying full attention to the details. Do read them if you are in love with the whole splashy, wild, experience that is the human condition.”

    ~ Annie Stenzel, First Home Air After Absence


    “Richard H. Fox’s latest collection, embracing the burlesque of collateral damage, explores and confronts the drama—the poetry—within the body. We are introduced to the mundane and apathetic horror of cancer: a mother, about to endure another chemo session, must leave her infant with her twin sister. Fox is a master of this twining and twinning: the story of his cancer is woven with the story of family—Cassie, Meg, Beeb, and of course, Uncle Louie. Fox tells an earthy, visceral story-in-verse of Holocaust survivors, children of pogroms, cheap beer, domestic abuse, and enduring devotion. This lineage is as much a part of the body as disease; this history is as much a part of the story as cancer. Our bodies dictate the rules./No wild cards, aces high, fresh decks. Fox greets the indignity of cancer treatment with humor and an unflinching eye. He asks us, the receivers of his poems, Do you hear my poems? Yes, and we’re left, at the end, understanding the threshold on which we balance. Thank you, Richard H. Fox, for this masterful collection. I, for one, will carry embracing the burlesque of collateral damage with me for a long time.”

    ~ Jennifer Martelli, The Uncanny Valley and My Tarantella



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