Press / Reviews

What other poets are saying about Alan Perry’s poetry and Clerk of the Dead:

To read this collection is to find lines that are strikingly personal while speaking to the larger truths of human existence in a world where nothing is permanent. In this work, Perry has established himself as a poet with striking insight and an impressive ability to render life’s complexity into a handful of words.

Kameron Ray Morton, Aug. 2020

“Alan Perry has challenged our tangible concept of life and death, body and spirit, action and memory.”

“Pay attention, the writing is so graceful at times that you don’t even know exactly how it is you feel the way you do.”

Jeff Santosuosso, June 2020

Alan Perry’s poem “Closure” was featured in the January 2020 edition of “Winning Writers Newsletter”.

In Clerk of the Dead, Alan Perry works the seam between what was and what might have been; between wonder and the details that make our lives; between description and song.  He’s a poet who knows that life is a commerce of much keeping and much losing. I am grateful for the gentle music he makes out of the way a body moves through its days; I am grateful for the invitation in these poems: to see, to hear, and to remember. 

Tyler Meier, Executive Director, University of Arizona Poetry Center

“A Quiet Occurrence” first appeared in Issue 16 of Tahoma Literary Review. Many of us knew Mary Oliver’s work by the time of her passing in January 2019, and this gentle exploration by Alan Perry is dedicated to her memory. What first caught my attention is Perry’s approach in images, even as the lines in his work waterfall with a staggered indentation. This spacing acts much as the water in the poem, traveling slowly across the page with the sadness many of us felt in losing a poetic icon.  But rather than end with irredeemable loss, “A Quiet Occurrence” centers each image in Oliver’s ability to find the unexpected in front of her, while simultaneously celebrating all that is still to come. Could there be a better way to honor her life than to remember that her words continue, in each of us?

Mare Heron Hake, Poetry Editor, Tahoma Literary Review

Alan Perry’s poems mean to jolt us awake by reminding us that paying attention is an act of generosity and devotion. His poems turn ordinary acts and words into sacraments. He grounds us in the daily, but takes us to the stars. He knows and listens with a tenderness and acuity that enlarges, reminding us to acknowledge one another’s existence as though we are as important to each other as we really are.

Juliet Patterson, author of “Threnody” and “The Truant Lover

Alan Perry’s poems are—as he says at the end of the title poem—visitations, often to the dead or those entangled in disaster. Each accident and foreclosure is recorded in a manner befitting a Clerk of the Dead: precisely and without embellishment. What I found fascinating was the speaker’s encounter with Mary Oliver and Walt Whitman, both of whom bequeath gifts that result in (most appropriately) a most lovely and universal “Elegy.”

Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota Poet Laureate and author of “Carrying Water to the Field

In Clerk of the Dead, Alan Perry combines two of a poet’s most potent varieties of magic—obsession and concision—to zero in on unresolved scenes from the past and present. What impresses me most about this moving debut collection is how Perry’s potentially muddy subject matter—memory, loss, and grief—is made crystalline through his vision.

Sarah Rose Nordgren, author of “Darwin’s Mother” and “Best Bones”

Clerk of the Dead named as a “writers success story” by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies and instructor Angela Rydell

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