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ISBN: 978-0-9837945-0-9
Categories Poetry

School of the Americas

Publication Date: September 2012


As the title suggests, School of the Americas is a collection that takes us to school, in fact many schools that comprise our common experience, from the birth of “enhanced interrogation” (title poem), to the political and classroom rutting of the Culture Wars (“Sodomites” “At the Grave of Jesse Helms”), to the surprising lessons of pop culture (“Roy Orbison, New Orleans 1984” “Hook”) that so often steer our dreams in ways both familiar and haunting. School of the Americas seeks the crossroads of personal life and history at ground level, where character and time fuse into destinies, some tragic (“The Slug”), some weirdly magnificent (“Ode to Wilbur Mills”), some demonic (“Russians”). Accessible, polemical, elegiac, often comic, Rigsbee’s poems speak not just to understanding, but to imagination and judgment. In the words of Peter Makuck, “Few other poets so powerfully capture both the ignorant cruelty and profound love we bear one another.”


“David Rigsbee’s poems move with philosophical intensities. The perspectives the poems offer are complex, highly nuanced, rooted in critical engagements with a cultural tradition, and often less comfortable than the refusal of perspective practiced by more vertiginous writers.”

-Robert McNama

David Rigsbee’s School of the Americas resonates far beyond its fine title poem into a school most of us of a certain age have attended. That is, a school of romance and loss marked by history itself, and a series of dramatic events both minor and major-pop culture and that culture not far above it-that we aspire to. Rigsbee mediates and enlarges these personal poems with an ease of literary reference and humor, and his characteristic intelligence. A fine book, indeed.”

-Stephen Dunn

In School of the Americas, David Rigsbee’s range is panoramic, the poems coursing the “endless loops and curves” of the personal, political, historical, and literary-with wisely incisive intersections between. This is a remarkable collection, Rigsbee’s formal gleanings becoming lessons from which we all might learn finally the ‘something invaluable about poetry,’ trusting Rigsbee’s to be the centering, necessary ‘heart of a deep reverie.'”

-Claudia Emerson

About the Author

David Rigsbee

David Rigsbee is the author of 23 books and chapbooks, including twelve previous full-length collections of poems.  In addition, he has also published critical works on Carolyn Kizer and Joseph Brodsky, whom he also translated.  He has co-edited two anthologies, including Invited Guest:  An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry, a “notable book” selection of the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors. His work has appeared in AGNIThe American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, The Ohio Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and many others.  He has been recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a NEH summer fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. His other awards include The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown fellowship, The Virginia Commission on the Arts literary fellowship, The Djerassi Foundation and Jentel Foundation residencies, and an Award from the Academy of American Poets.  Winner of a Pushcart Prize, the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Award and the Pound Prize, he was also 2010 winner of the Sam Ragan Award for contribution to the arts in North Carolina. His most recent books are MAGA Sonnets of Donald Trump (2021) and a translation of Dante’s Paradiso (2023).

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