“This sequence of 30 fierce, lovely poems is set in the 1940s and ’50s at the edge of Greater Appalachia, in southwest Missouri, a world at once exotic and familiar. The poems provide a border state setting for folkways that arrived ― two centuries before, in the 1700s ― from that much older Border Country, the northern counties of England, the Scottish lowlands, and what would become Northern Ireland.”
― Philip Garrison, from the introduction
The Ebbing Tide
Carlos Reyes has spent considerable time in Alaska, mostly in small communities such as Ketchikan, Bethel, and Sitka, and in villages like the Tsimshian Indian Community of Metakatla and the Yupik village of Kalskag, where he worked with and for the communities as a land surveyor. His last trip to Alaska was to Sitka as poet-in-residence at The Island Institute, where he was able to observe up close patrolling bald eagles, the herring fishery, and humpback whales feeding in Sitka Sound. The residency gave him a totally different encounter with the landscape than slogging through the muskeg out in the bush.
Lament for Us All
The poems in Lament for Us All were written during the Pandemic of 2020, while separated from the world and all that was familiar.
“In an attempt to write my way out of the darkness, paranoia, and isolation of being shut in over the last year, I treated the time as if I were a writer-in-residence at an exotic locale. Because I had unlimited time, I set myself to writing poetry with a certain amount of discipline and vigor. These poems are the result.”
Sea Smoke to Ashes
The poems in Sea Smoke to Ashes are a collage of experiences in real life and experiments in writing. Sea smoke is not smoke but fog. It is that thin veil floating just above the surface of the waves that creeps down from Alaska into my imagination and generates poems about that mysterious region of North America. Sea Smoke to Ashes begins in a bar in Anchorage and ends up in the Bering Strait’s Pribilof Islands, isolated mysterious rocks not quite in Russia and not quite American.
Two People in the Night by a River
Two People in the Night by a River contains many strange and poignant love poems from the in-between worlds of unrequited love, separation, and divorce, through slow-drifting moonlit waters to dangerous rapids. Love and moving water, always hallmarks in Reyes’ life and poetry, are alive in these pages. Here are poems of love ranging from a callow adolescent’s first experiences to an older man’s disappointments. The pieces show traces of such notables as John Clare, Dante, Yannos Ritsos, Yehuda Amichai, and W.B. Yeats. Reyes, always the traveler, takes us with him to France, Greece, the Caribbean, the Archipelago de San Blas, and to the Darien jungle of Panamá.
Along the Flaggy Shore ― Poems from West Clare
Salmon Poetry, 2018
“In his new book, Along the Flaggy Shore, Carlos Reyes meditates on the presence of the past and the passing of the present in poems which roam the west of Ireland in a kind of modern-day bardic circuit. Every poem is an occasion to halt and take stock of places, people, and events whose rich details are noticed by few and whose stories tremble on the edge of forgetting. Every poem shores images of the local, the small, the intimate against the traumatic storm of history whose grand narratives too often drown out the voices from the backwaters. This book, then, is a proclamation of what it ought to mean to be a “tenant of the world,” of how transience can be embraced without fear or hope, but made luminous in poems whose very existence pass on the words by which the future might truly know us.”
― Ger Killeen
Guilt in Our Pockets ― Poems from South India
This new collection by the internationally known poet and translator Carlos Reyes adds to the rich treasure chest of poems from a restless and inveterate traveler whose work has taken us to Spain, Ecuador, France, Ireland, the Arctic, the Galapagos, Mexico, Panama, Italy, and now India. In these poems a talent for visual texture and detail, coupled with the poet’s familiarity with a huge variety of social and cultural matrixes, produces a close and sometimes troubling view of the contrast between American assumptions of privilege and India’s blend of fantastically rich culture and the bitterly desperate social and economic circumstances to be found there in the lives of common folk.
“Carlos Reyes looks on South India with new eyes and transfigures all that is humdrum ― traffic, pavement dwellers, animals urban and wild, sweepers, village roads, cotton pluckers ― into a landscape that kindles memory and empathy, and one in whose every aspect he sees at least one marvelous thing.”
― Anjun Hasan
Pomegranate, Sister of the Heart
On the heels of The Book of Shadows comes Pomegranate, Sister of the Heart. In his fifth full-length collection, poet and translator Carlos Reyes offers a lyrical and sometimes surreal vision of our world. The edgy tone of this collection represents a departure from his earlier work, but the omnibus quality of this book offers something for everyone.
“I have read with much pleasure the work of Carlos Reyes. I am struck by the spare, measured quality of the poems which move with such thoughtfulness and grace; and with their respect and love for the often-overlooked, the plain, the humble; their shrewd, observing eye. Nickel, coffin, a woman clipping a lawn with regular scissors… throughout, the moral and political function within and vividly interact with the natural world ― it’s such a resonant braiding.”
― Laurie Sheck
The Book of Shadows ― New and Selected Poems
“Over the years Carlos Reyes has written poems of the highest order and it’s a pleasure to see so many of them gathered together in The Book of Shadows. This is a necessary book that clearly shows the author’s deep humanity and his sophisticated skill; like all first-rate work it returns our lives to us. In poem after poem readers are given those quick shocks of recognition which make them say, Yes, this is the way it is! Such an important contribution to our literature deserves to be recognized and honored by everyone who cares about the art of poetry.”
― Vern Rutsala
At the Edge of the Western Wave
A book of poems that recounts the poet’s initial impressions of and early experiences in the West of Ireland. Reyes first visited Ireland in the early 1970s and was so taken by the landscape, the history, and especially the people that he bought a 300-year-old cottage in County Clare. Over the next 50 years he divided his time between there and Oregon. At the Edge of the Western Wave includes poems he wrote throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
“What I love about this collection is that it catches perfectly that special sense of rural Ireland which might be described as a mixture of raw satirical humour, tragedy, and a kind of yearning for love and connection in a society that feels a constant tension between materialism and spirituality. At the Edge of the Western Wave is a big and sweeping enough collection to accommodate these themes and their nuances: I’m constantly amazed at the way in which Reyes can present a small detail ― a shopfront, a “wink” of light, an Hiberno-English phrase, a name, a placename ― and evoke a whole way of life.”
― Ger Killeen
A Suitcase Full of Crows
These poems were written during a time of self-exile and personal turmoil, as well as the political upheaval of the Gulf War. They range over a landscape that Reyes long since has made his own: the Cascade forests and the Columbia Plateau/Great Basin area. Reyes is a native of landforms both isolated and isolating, inhabitant of a frontier where the atomic age and the Neolithic mesh.
“Quietly and steadily Carlos Reyes has been writing the finest poetry of his generation. A Suitcase Full of Crows is a further demonstration of that fact and an opportunity for more readers to see the craft, wit, subtlety, and range of this truly remarkable poet.”
― Vern Rutsala
This collection is the work of a poet looking for navigational aids ― “nightmarks” ― to guide him through the dark and dangerous waters of his life. He finds poetry as one such aid.
“Nightmarks contains poems of work, community, and love, all told with the sharp, rapid line of which Carlos Reyes is a master.”
― Google Books
The Shingle Weaver’s Journal
Lynx House Press, 1980
Out of Print
In Reyes’ first full-length book, he writes about his extensive experience in the Coast Range of northwest Oregon: running fire crews, cutting shake bolts, and other logging misadventures.
“Of the many strange, tangy things that happen in the Northwest, Carlos Reyes is a connoisseur. He saves up glimpses and smells like little cameos and jewels for his poems. Entering his book is beginning a tour of the country, a walk through the woods, a trip along aromatic trails; the smell of cedar and the drip of water are with you. Far scenes are brought in with a zoom lens, and the Reyes flavor of living and recollecting is laced gracefully through page after page of surprise and recognition blended into insight.”
― William Stafford
Capra Press, 1973
Out of Print
A limited-edition letterpress chapbook from Capra Press, edited by Robert Durand and Noel Young. The Prisoner is the eighth book of the Yes! Capra Chapbook Series that includes such notables as Henry Miller, Ursula La Guin, Raymond Carver, Anais Nin, Andrei Codrescu, Diane di Prima, and others.
Of special interest is the line drawing on the title page, done especially for Reyes by San Francisco poet Robert Duncan.