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The Book of Sharks

Publication Date: July 2018


The Book of Sharks is an accomplishment at the micro and macro level. Rob Carney has crafted lines that you’ll want to save for your next tattoo inside of efficient poems that touch on creation myth, forgotten industries, and slices of life in villages he manufactures with a creator’s divine spark. All of this works on its own inside of a larger, complex quilt that he has woven into an intricate pattern that revisits themes, finishes stories, and reminds you that The Book of Sharks is a larger poem that is greater than just its sharpened teeth.

—Jesse Parent

In precise, sharp lines, Rob Carney’s The Book of Sharks builds and interrogates myth and myth-makers, turning to sharks to also turn inward and outward, exploring one’s purpose and place and the stories one tells to make meaning. Here, poems wash out and return like the tides they describe, inviting the reader to feel their weight, as if “to disappear under the stories / as though they were waves.” In the end, whether in water, sky, or story, Carney invites us to consider the essential motivation of “moving, arriving, being full,” what it means to seek.

—Callista Buchen

“Some say sharks are the ocean’s anger at us for being in its future,” writes Rob Carney. I say poems are sharks’ way of forgiving us for the soup, the necklaces, the movies, and the mascots. And, let’s not even mention climate change. Rob Carney’s trenchant, probing poems circle around the self, not so much sensing blood but, perhaps even more dangerously, searching for understanding. Part confession, part documentation, part meditation, these smartly crafted lyrics explore how and why we have and have not allowed sharks (metaphors for so many things) to swim into our lives. This is a major effort from a talented poet.

—Dean Rader

About the Author

Rob Carney

Rob Carney is the author of seven books of poems, including Facts and Figures (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle 2020), The Last Tiger Is Somewhere (Unsolicited Press 2020), co-authored with Scott Poole, and The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press 2018), which won the 15 Bytes Utah Book Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Accidental Gardens, a collection of 42 flash essays about the environment, politics, and poetics, is forthcoming from Stormbird Press (Parndana, South Australia). Carney is the recipient of several honors for his work, including the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. He is a Professor of English at Utah Valley University and lives in Salt Lake City.

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