EastOver Press is proud to announce the upcoming publication of Skies of Blur, a collection of poems by critically acclaimed poet Elijah Burrell.
Skies of Blur, Burrell’s third collection, navigates the depths of human connection and disconnection, love and loss, and the spaces between. Burrell breathes life into every line, crafting a world both familiar and entirely new.
While guiding us quietly between the realms of the natural and supernatural, these poems remind us of the chaos and uncertainty of modern life. Through metaphors of spinning plates and broken umbrellas, Burrell captures the delicate balance we all strive to maintain and the challenges we face in a seemingly incurable world. This blurring world demands we pay attention and stay vigilant at all costs. Burrell’s poems deal with the struggle between our past and present selves. As only miracles and poems can, Skies of Blur brings the dead back to life and awakens memories of days long gone.
Throughout the collection, Burrell introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters, like Mr. Night, the bull who inexplicably materializes, speaks, and serves as both adversary and ally. As the collection progresses, Mr. Night engages in a series of surreal encounters, challenging the reader to question the nature of identity and the boundaries between our inner and outer worlds. In other poems, Burrell showcases an uncommon ability to infuse absurd narratives with tragedy and joy, as when a man longing for connection steals a horn shark from a local aquarium.
This collection proclaims that each of us strays into unknowable places. Wildflowers will fall from our gaping wounds. We may never know our multitudinous selves, or we might meet them to destroy them. Prepare to be moved and challenged as you look up into the deep, dark Skies of Blur.
“Skies of Blur is a heart-rending and soulful lyric of midlife, a poetic travelogue of the harrowing terrain between innocence and the reinventions of maturity. ‘[S]omewhere in motherless Missouri,’ a mother’s ghost is recollected roadside like a hitchhiking, escaped inmate; a derelict house collapses and feeds a magenta rejuvenation of wildflowers; religious conversions tempt and alcohol consoles as it condemns. Drafting in the slipstream of popular music and the blues, from Elliott Smith to Elvis to Sonny Boy Williamson, many of these poems shudder and reverberate in the maelstrom of contemporary provocations: gun violence, virulent politics, historic pandemics. A slyly ironic humor sneaks in: a stratagem against grief. The claustrophobic rooms of memory haunt and taunt, but the amoral realm of nature reveals pathways of escape. A thrilling foray into the ‘stray field’ of surrealism—where we meet Mr. Night, a Hereford bull reminiscent of Yeats’s and Merrill’s occult interlocutors, as well as Bluebird, the speaker’s alter ego who awaits his ‘winter feathers’—allows for the dreamwork of psychic transformation. The poet writes: ‘The young men shall see visions and the old men / dream dreams.’ In Elijah Burrell’s Skies of Blur, the striking achievement of a timeless voice, the poems not only see and dream but fly and sing.” —Dan O’Brien, author of Our Cancers and War Reporter
“Elijah Burrell’s Skies of Blur is a landmark work of anxious nature writing, anxious urban writing, light music history, Sally Grossman cameos, and the times we pretend to live in. Highest commendation.” —Elizabeth Nelson, singer-songwriter, The Paranoid Style
“In Skies of Blur, Elijah Burrell burnishes the cerulean clear. From bull to news to Wright to Ruefle, every titan and permission ignites here. We trust this formally dynamic poet to string a stout path across loss. And he does. These elegiac musics nest redemptive—tender and strong—in the end. Burrell is the sort of seer I am grateful for. And I swear Mance Lipscomb and Zbigniew Herbert strummed and sang along.” —Abraham Smith, author of Insomniac Sentinel and Dear Weirdo
“In these vivid poems of careful observation, Elijah Burrell documents a rural life that is recorded with exactitude and with sensitivity for his subjects. The poet’s senses are on high alert, as he is not just noting the shifts and changes of the American pastoral as it alters over time; Burrell is also preoccupied with the violence that underlies American culture—and which is now endemic. Burrell’s ardent moral sensibility, his musical ear, and keen powers of description lead him—and us—toward revelation, thoughtfulness, and generosity.” —Mark Wunderlich, author of God of Nothingness and The Earth Avails
Burrell is the author of TROUBLER (Aldrich Press, 2018) and The Skin of the River (Aldrich Press, 2014). His writing has appeared in numerous publications such as AGNI, North American Review, The Hopkins Review, Southwest Review, The Rumpus, and many others. Burrell received the 2010 Jane Kenyon Scholarship at Bennington College, where he earned his MFA in Writing and Literature at Bennington’s Writing Seminars. In 2012 he joined the faculty of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. A Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Humanities and Communications, he teaches creative writing.