John Brehm and His Two Award-Winning Books of Poetry: "Help Is On the Way" and "Sea of Faith"

May 11, 2012

On this edition of ST, guest host Scott Gregory speaks with the widely acclaimed American poet, John Brehm, who grew up in Nebraska, lived for many years in New York City (and then Colorado), and is now based in Portland, Oregon. Brehm has just published his second book of poems, "Help Is On the Way," which won the 2012 Four Lakes Prize in Poetry; his first poetry collection, "Sea of Faith," won the 2004 Brittingham Prize in Poetry. (Both books are available from the University of Wisconsin Press.)  Brehm joins us by phone to discuss some of the themes, metaphors, and narratives that appear in both of his books. When reviewing "Sea of Faith" in The Georgia Review, the writer and critic Judith Kitchen praised that book's "unified consistency of tone and sophistication of approach." She also noted that Brehm's "voice is urbane, humorous, and amused --- distanced just enough to poke fun at the world and itself alike, to be able to see the ironies in every predicament.... Brehm knows what it is to live in a fallen world, knows what it is to live with a less than perfect self, and knows that rendering this state of being strikes a universal chord. You simply can't resist reading many of these poems out loud to someone else. So easily do they make their way inside you, you might be tempted to think of them as 'easy.' Yet each poem is original, and if they feel familiar they do so because Brehm has given voice to the complexities of being, handing us back to ourselves through the surety of his craft."