Jeff Worley is the author of six books and four chapbooks of poetry, as well as an anthology from University Press of Kentucky titled What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. His book The Only Time There Is won the Mid-List Press first-book competition. His second, Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern, was named co-winner of the Society of Midland Authors Literary Competition and was awarded the 2006 Kentucky Book of the Year in Poetry. Worley has received numerous other awards for his writing, including three Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and a National Endowment Creative Writing Fellowship. Jeff’s newest collection, Lucky Talk, was published earlier this summer by Broadstone Books. He and his wife, Linda, divide their time between Lexington and their cabin at Cave Run Lake.
Award-winning poet Jeff Worley returns with a chapbook of short poems, several
previously published but all brought together here for the first time. The result is a
distillation of his ever-present wit and scattered bits of wisdom accumulated over
seventy years, a spirit as pure and clear and bracing as any backwoods liquor.
In some poems he fondly recalls his parents, into whose lives he landed “like a sack /
of old socks on their shoulders”, and his Kansas boyhood. In others he laments the
indignities of age, such as the loss of memory, the appearance of mysterious spots, or
the waitress who tells him his eyes are beautiful, only to add “Ya know, you remind
me of my grandfather.” Ouch!
In between we are treated to Worley’s thoughts and observations on a number of
topics, a reminder that some of the best poems are indeed “Lucky Talk”, the title
borrowed from William Stafford who described poems as “pieces of talk, savored
and sustained.” Here that talk ranges over cats and snowflakes, deer and quilting
bees, UFOs and turtle shells, a declaration of faith and the “cosmic observation” that
The stars increase their twinkling
the more I increase my drinkling.
In the end, these poems are a feat not unlike that of Eunice Winkless and her 1905
ride on the back of a diving horse,
…determined to take
the whole whooping crowd with
her, make them never forget…
Prepare to do some whooping, as Worley rides these words. You won’t forget them.