ISBN: 978-1-62557-063-5
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Categories Anthologies, Poetry

Watchman in the Knife Factory: New and Selected Poems

Publication Date: June 2024


Known for their lyrical intensity and thematic range, David Rigsbee’s poems have appeared prominently in literary magazines for five decades, as well as in a dozen full-length collections. Watchman in the Knife Factory: New and Selected Poems features the key works of his career, gathering poems from volumes long out of print, as well as presenting a generous selection of work from the new millennium. As Peter Makuck noted, “Few other poets so powerfully capture both the ignorant cruelty and profound love we bear one another.”


For decades now, David Rigsbee has crafted poems of a bracing lyrical intensity that is both refined and tough-minded.They celebrate the blessings and consolations of a cultured life, one that can honor Auden and Roy Orbison, Faust, and one-hit Doo Sop groups.These elegant and lovingly constructed poems deserve to be read and—more importantly—reread.
—David Wojahn

As a fine poet and a fine translator, he is the closest thing to a potential Renaissance man that I’ve encountered in my career: intellectually brilliant, highly creative, and emotionally mature.
—Carolyn Kizer

Rigsbee walks us through our past and present even as he points us toward the future. The world that awaits will be a beautiful one as long as it contains poets and poems like these.
—David Kirby

David Rigsbee keeps us with him at every step, whether in awe of his talent or nurtured by his insights. It is rare to pass through more than two or three pages without being punched in the gut or hugged by some greater, more understanding arm.
—Carolyne Wright

David Rigsbee does not promise mending, but persists with voice and eye in the work of connection.
—Sarah Lindsay

Rigsbee’s poems offer as premise and example a sensibility at once tautly responsible and generous.
—Jordan Smith

David Rigsbee gives us stunning moments; he draws us under the deep water.
—Ann Marie Macari

Few other poets so powerfully capture both the ignorant cruelty and profound love we bear one another.
—Peter Makuck

This is the voice of the American southern raconteur—musical, thoughtful, discursive, political. I’m drawn to the honesty of its unhurried recollections and its steady intelligence to its longings and angers and the twinkle in its eye.
—Dorianne Laux

One can only hope a lot of people have time and leisure to experience poems as accomplished, multitudinous, complicate and evocative.
—Andrew Glaze

David Rigsbee is one of our indispensable poets.
—Fred Chappell

Rigsbee’s poems are, above all else, quests. They are searches for meaning and endless haunts for an explanation, and they look not with envy but with grief at the more uncomplicated forms—flies, bears, tulips, sustaining their own lives. His poems are stubbornly honest and delicate, and I am moved by them.
—Gerald Stern

David Rigsbee’s poems chart the shifting geographies, the oceanic flux, of the human spirit. Like the maps of master cartographers, they engage the world while leading us toward vast privacies, what remains nameless.
—Michael Waters

Rigsbee’s tensile imagination takes on an air of achievement through the very strength and energy with which he makes the poem move.
—David Ignatow

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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