Winner of the 2002 Akron Poetry Prize
In Delicate Bait, Roger Mitchell explores the small histories of the self in the larger world, intent on giving everything its just place and name. The poems roam over field and seashore and city, “inventing a world so similar to the world itself / it becomes the world.” Whether musing on the past or searching for “something even memory can’t reach,” Mitchell faces up to “the wobble of most things human,” with a combination of stoicism and wonder and a language as supple as the spoken word.
We want a book—be it a work of fiction or poetry—to remind us how varied and complex our experience of the world can be at times. And yet when we encounter such a book, we realize how rarely we come across one that fits that description and how astonishing it is when we do. Roger Mitchell’s Delicate Bait is such a book. Not many poets now writing have as wide a range as he does, both in terms of subject matter and form. His poems are rich in detail, masterly in execution, and always a good read. He is savvy about the way we Americans live and tries to make sense of our lives in this moment in history.