We Deserve the Gods We Ask For
Seth Brady Tucker
Winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award - 2013
"Whether he is speaking of (as) Wile E. Coyote metaphorically, or speaking as a man who jumped out of airplanes (not for fun) and fired and was fired upon, or when he is speaking his remarkable love poems, you know you are hearing (I'm purposefully using 'speaking' and 'hearing' instead of writing and reading) something authentic, and true."—-Thomas Lux, author of God Particles and Split Horizon
"Bravo to this poet, who tells us so nonchalantly it is: 'God here. As in big G God. As in, listen up.' Listen up. Read this book."—Dorothea Lasky, author of Rome
"This book is nothing less than amazing!" —C.A. Conrad, author of ECODEVIANCE
'Seth Brady Tucker, author of Elixir Press award-winning poetry, Mormon Boy, returns with a bang in We Deserve the Gods We Ask For, recipient of the Gival Press Poetry Award. Tucker's experience as a paratrooper with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division seeps seamlessly into his fearless and witty writing style; his command of poetry is unquestionably superior and evident by his use of literary devices, particularly imagery, similes, metaphors, and enjambments. As a singer uses his voice to establish rhythm and pacing, Tucker uses words and syntax to emphasize certain lines and give the piece a musical feel. The audience will appreciate Tucker's gunslinger mentality when it comes to speaking his mind: He delivers his message with conviction and not even the slightest bit of hesitation.
The collection opens with, In the Beginning, a creative, Tuckerian version of the creation story. Many of Tucker's poems are light-hearted and humorous, poking fun at the shortcomings of life as a way of creating awareness; however, Beautiful Boys in Brodie Helmets is as serious and compelling as his writing gets. One of the images that stands out is the group of soldiers holed up as they are being shelled, still waiting on, 'hope like an umbrella of prayer.' What is made distinctly clear is that the soldiers encounter something so treacherous that they are permanently changed; those that make it home have never truly left their respective war zones. In the 21st century, terms such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have made their way into commonplace vernacular. Soldiers, on the surface, are showered with blessings and praise. Outside of the limelight, though, the reality is starkly different, and abhorrent. The recent revelation of the atrocious treatment of veterans at VA hospitals is sickening and reinforces the idea that many of our soldiers suffer more after returning home.
We Deserve the Gods We Ask For dedicates multiple poems to iconic characters from the 1990s, and it couldn't be more entertaining. Wile E. Coyote focuses on the somewhat dim-witted villain who was constantly outsmarted by the RoadRunner in the Looney Tunes cartoon. He is depicted taking Percocet, Valium, and Vicodin, pain-relievers that ultimately turn one into a junkie. Tucker's representation of Popeye in Popeye, Off-Camera, is perhaps the most eye-popping. In so many ways, Popeye is nothing short of a cartoon God, a classical figure that embodies everything that is right with humanity. This poem portrays Popeye as a broke, has-been who is now an alcoholic nomad watching a souped-up version of himself on television save Olive Oyl after an infusion of spinach-fueled, muscle-bulging. Millennials will no doubt appreciate references to their favorite childhood characters, which also include the Last Letter to Superman, and the Marvel and DC Comics' Sandman and Aquaman respectively.
The second section, Our Unanswered Prayers, dwells more on the abstract and metaphysical. Of all the poems in this section, one stands out like a burning light in a darkened tunnel: Waiting for Your Life to Start. The speaker of the poem is shaving in the morning—nothing out of the ordinary—and suddenly realizes that he is losing the keep away game with time. This poem is evergreen and universal, an ode to the 'when I grow up, I want to be,' phrase. Unfortunately, many have grown up and are still waiting for their life to start, waiting to make that change that transforms their life. In Who She Is, Tucker's use of line breaks and enjambments helps control pacing and creates an aesthetically appealing structure that is easy on the eyes. From the viewpoint of content, Who She Is, shows how those that are perceived as inferior and worthless are often swept under the carpet, ignored, and neglected.
The third and final section, Death is a Prayer, features otherworldly and spectacular poems like 1955 (What Kerouac Says to Ginsberg in Heaven) the Contract, and the ultimate, but no less potent, It Makes Me Sad For Everyone. From a scintillating conversation between twentieth-century prolific poems Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to a heartbreaking realization that the poet within must perish, audiences will find this section hard to put down.
Poetry often appeals to the emotion, and while the range of emotions can be infinite, most compilations appeal to the same emotions of love, spirit, etc. We Deserve The Gods We Ask For certainly possesses these emotions; however, it goes a step further and packages aesthetically pleasing poems with fiery, energetic, and evergreen content that has the potential to hold its own in any generation. Seth Brady Tucker's offering certainly deserves a first read, and for those inclined, a second read to fish out the hidden gems layered within the poems."
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
Seth Brady Tucker
Seth Brady Tucker’s first book, Mormon Boy, won the 2011 Elixir Press Editor’s Poetry Prize (2012), and was a Finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award. He has won a number of writing awards in poetry and fiction, and in 2013 one of his stories won the Shenandoah Bevel Summers Fiction Prize and the Literal Latte Short Fiction Award. His work has been published in such magazines and journals as the Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Verse Daily, Apalachee Review, River Styx, Chattahoochee Review, storySouth, Crab Orchard Review, among many others. Seth has served as the Carol Houck Smith Scholar at Bread Loaf, and he is an instructor in the inmate literacy program, Words Beyond Bars, in Colorado. Seth has degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, Northern Arizona University (where he resurrected and worked as Poetry and Fiction Editor for Thin Air magazine), and Florida State University (PhD, 2012). Currently, Seth is writing a novel about his experiences growing up in Wyoming and his time in the Persian Gulf, and his first short fiction collection was recently a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award. Both are represented by Alex Glass at Trident Media Group, New York. He teaches poetry and fiction workshops at the Light House Writer’s Workshop in Denver, and lives and teaches at the University of Colorado near Boulder. He is originally from Wyoming, and served as an Army 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper in the Persian Gulf.