A Swallow Press Book

Devils & Islands

By Turner Cassity

Winner of the 2008 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Poetry

“He is a guerrilla tactician of piquant humor, waiting patiently in the bushes then pouncing at just the right moment.... His inimitable takes on contemporary life and thought delight even as they deliver their well-aimed stings.”

The Yale Review

“He could be a reincarnation of the spirit of Alexander Pope in the contemporary world. How would such a spirit of the Enlightenment adapt to the media-dominated postmodern world? The answer is ‘easily,’ like an antediluvian alligator to the swimming pool—and with an entertainment value of four stars.”

Magill’s Literary Annual 2008

“The world he so minutely examines may be decadent, but the work it provokes is an intellectual delight.”


“He is surely one of the most jaundiced satirists around, but there is in his poems often something—some hint of human sympathy perhaps—that leaves the reader some hope of being forgiven or at least overlooked.”

Donald Justice

As he approaches eighty, Turner Cassity may finally be out of control. His hatchet has never fallen more lethally, meaning if you have the stomach for him he is more enjoyable than ever. Under the blade come Martha Graham, Johann Sebastian Bach, musicologists, tree huggers, Frank Gehry, folk music, folk art of all times and all places, folk… . There are, however, his unpredictable sympathies: Edith Wilson, skyscrapers, Pontius Pilate, Pilate’s legionnaires. He obviously has a soft spot for Pop Culture, although he cannot avoid seeing it de haut en bas.

As usual, he is all over the place geographically. One feels he would slash his wrists before he would write a poem about any city on the traditional Grand Tour. Manaus, Campeche, Trieste, Budapest (as destroyed by Godzilla)—these are his places. He has a disturbing willingness to write on both sides of an issue, resembling in this Bernard Shaw. You have to read very carefully to see whether he tips his hand.

One looks forward to Mr. Cassity’s posthumous poems, when he is beyond the reach of libel. For now, at least, we have Devils & Islands.

Turner Cassity was born in 1929 in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of seven collections of poetry and the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He retired in 1991 as a catalog librarian at the R. W. Woodruff Library, Emory University.

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Retail price: $14.95, S.
Release date: Mar. 2007
72 pages
Rights: World


Retail price: $28.95, S.
Release date: Mar. 2007
72 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Release date: Mar. 2007
Rights: World