True to its title, the format of the book intersperses poems, most plainspoken, most in sonnet form, with reproductions of prints, handbills, and newspaper pages; the effect is that the collection reads alternately as an almanac, primer, gazette, even a street pamphlet as it offers the reader a richly interwoven texture of public and private testimonies ... Like much of Gallagher’s previous involvements ... the collection has the feel of an object, something handcrafted and unique. Those familiar with Gallagher's work will be happy to discover this newest effort. Readers just coming to his work will find something new and valuable to add to “the tool kit for living” that Williams suggested poetry should be.
LOOM is concerned with the history of our divided country, a violent division preceding civil war and by now embedded in our cultural landscape. The non-sentimental poems are cool, clear and literal. They are narrated by white Americans who position themselves in relation to “slave power” and cotton as “lords of the loom” and “lords of the lash”. Boston is central to the story, and the cities of Lawrence and Lowell. It’s a valuable collection, as it puts the focus back on the white male where the distortion of vision begins and is occasionally resolved.
—Fanny Howe, winner of the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize and National Book Award Finalist
In a creative and spellbinding way the author shows that slavery and racial injustice represented a bulwark for local and regional economies throughout the nation. Indeed, in the case of our own New England the ‘lords of the loom’ were in the same room as the ‘lords of the lash’—albeit in different corners of the same room. This is an important book that should be shared widely as a foundation for asking where are we today, and how we got here, but also how should we move forward as a society.
—James Jennings, Professor Emeritus, Tufts University, editor of Race and Politics in the United States: New Challenges and Responses for Black Activism
The crucial questions of racism, labor rights, and wealth—and their complex and undeniable connections are taken up by LOOM. Kevin Gallagher’s poems are excavations and reclamations of difficult American history, elucidating prismatically the voices and sites of collusion in and resistance to the construction of our nation’s greatest institutions and our nation’s most awful crimes.
—Danielle Legros Georges, poet laureate of Boston and author of The Dear Remote Nearness of You
Kevin Gallagher’s poems spring directly out of the long, rich vein of New England thought and sensibility, with all its civil wars of the self, and cannot be ignored by anyone wishing to know the poetical topography of our day.
—Ben Mazer, author of The Glass Piano
Kevin Gallagher is a political economist, poet and publisher living in Greater Boston with his wife Kelly, their children Theo and Estelle, and Rexroth, the family’s German shepherd. Gallagher edits spoKe, a Boston-based annual of poetry and poetics, and works as a Professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University’s Pardee School for Global Studies.
by Kevin Gallagher
$21.95, paperback, 118 pp