to the brambleTo the Bramble and the Briar

Winner Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize
Paperback, 90 pages , 8.3 x 5.4 inches
University of Arkansas Press (March 1, 2014) Language: English
ISBN-10: 1557286515 ISBN-13: 978-1557286512

Purchase online from UA Press / Purchase online through Amazon

Praise & Reviews

To the Bramble and the Briar is a magical biography that renders the development of Abraham Lincoln’s vision in all of its clumsiness and beauty. We see Lincoln as unromanticized, deeply human—whether reading Shakespeare out loud at the bottom of a well or sitting with a bucket over his head after Bull Run. We meet Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, as well as unnamed witnesses: a courtroom stenographer typing Lincoln’s words in Illinois; a teenage girl lifted out of slavery by a kite in the shape of a swordfish; and two anonymous workers charged with opening Lincoln’s grave. With young Tad Lincoln, we see—as a man is tarred and feathered, his two sons standing by—that ‘One day the world ends / right in front of you.’ Especially poignant—both funny and filled with sorrow—is the love story between Mary and Abraham, a husband who would come to his wife’s room “every night to kiss / at nine-thirty and then / at ten to undo her / some more.”

The Cabinetmaker's WindowThe Cabinetmaker's Window

Paperback, 80 pages, 8.4 x 6.1 inches
Louisiana State University Press (February 10, 2014), Southern Messenger Poets Series
ISBN-10: 0807154490 ISBN-13: 978-0807154496

Purchase online through LSU Press / Purchase online through Amazon

Praise & Reviews

“Dying never / ends for us. It only slowly rearranges us,” writes Steve Scafidi in his poignant new collection. Inspired by his own work as a cabinetmaker—defined by the peppery dust from the woodworker planing a walnut board, turning an oak spindle at the lathe, or honing chisels while gazing out a window—Scafidi’s poems reveal both the tenuous and the everlasting nature of existence.

The Cabinetmaker's WindowSongs for the Carry-On

Q Avenue Press (2013); This book was printed by hand in an edition of 50 at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts Press in Bloomington, Indiana, from plates and handset wood type. Book structure designed by Ulla Warchol. Type set and printed by Michelle Winchell. Books were built by Ulla Warchol, Stephanie Smith, and Ross Gay in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. Curated by Ross Gay. Published by Curtis Bauer. See more of the book at Q Ave Press.



For Love of Common WordsFor Love of Common Words

Paperback, 80 pages, 9 x 6 inches
Louisiana State University Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2006), Southern Messenger Poets Series
ISBN-13: 978-0807131374

Purchase online from LSU Press / Purchase from Amazon

Praise & Reviews

The scariest sentence in the English language is brief, threatening, and hopeful. It is deceptive, simple, and as common as water: anything is possible. This second collection by Steve Scafidi is haunted by the possible and "the bells of the verb to be" that "ring-a-ding-ding calling us / to the holy dark of this first / warm night of Spring." When anything is possible, Scafidi finds, horror is as likely as delight. In poems both meditative and defiant he mourns the eventual loss of all that we love and finds consolation, wherever possible, in the rhythm of common words and "the sacred guesswork" of the imagination. Here is the dangerous world we all have in common. Here is a brief and hopeful book.

Sparks from a Nine Pound HammerSparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer

Winner of the Levis Reading Prize
Paperback, 76 pages, 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
Louisiana State University Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2001), Southern Messenger Poets Series
ISBN-10: 0807126942 / ISBN-13: 978-0807126943

Purchase online from LSU Press / Purchase from Amazon

Praise & Reviews

Sometimes a fact swings down like a hammer and we are changed. The fact of loss, the fact of desire, and all the wild, unruly facts of history hammer down and sparks fly up. This, then, is a collection of facts. In a rushing, rolling style, poems sweep to the edge of falling apart, take great delight in defying that dissolution, and come upon a thing redemptive and clarifying: the fact of love. In a world that “doesn’t really care / whether we live or die,” Steve Scafidi writes, “tell it you do and why.” Against the harrowing fact of death, Scafidi celebrates dream and desire and the sweet erotics of springtime. Witnessing the budding of muscle trees, the nakedness of a lover, and the furious plowing of a river in the month of April amounts to a sensual equivalent of hope. And yet, the facts of history — from Troy to Rome to Montgomery, Alabama — arouse a great dread of our own cruelties. The truth of the South, the poems show, is often a brutal mix of ignorance and force that America learned from the great classical civilizations. From the unthinkable to the quietly heroic, somehow we have emerged. Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer celebrates that fact most of all.