But you are rich: A collection of original poems
But You Are Rich is a collection of original poems that balance the lyric and narrative modes, alternately uncovering the narrative context a lyric poem so often masks or searching the lyric moment within a narrative frame. Two poetic sequences in the manuscript illustrate this balance. One meditates on the father-mother-son triad and its psychic, social, and theological significance; the other dramatizes the travails of residents in a fictional town called Smyrna. These sequences are augmented by additional poems on themes such as coming of age, marriage, war, and spiritual experience. In general, all the poems in the collection explore the paradoxical fragility and strength of human connections—to each other, to the natural world, and to the divine—and the ways larger cultural forces may impinge on those connections.
Just as the collection unites lyric and narrative approaches to poetry, so does it balance formalist and free-verse techniques. Poems in received forms like the sonnet, sestina, and pantoum are interspersed with poems written in open forms. An introduction preceding the poems addresses the structure and themes of the collection, influences on the poems’ composition, the author’s approach to form and rhythm, and the significance of place, both to this collection and to American poetry more broadly.