Advance praise for Famished

Christopher Watkins has the enviable knack of locating within the transient moments and perceptions something that feels—much as in classic Chinese poetry—eternal. Part of this stems from his feeling for form—the many marvelous haiku blues in this book. Part of it stems from his musical ear that is alert to each syllable and sound as the poem cuts through time. Part of it resides in his large spirit that is able to go here and there—mountains, seas, children, pelicans—while heeding the fragility of  each footstep. This is a book to spend many hours with and then years—blue-noted art.

—Baron Wormser, author of The History Hotel


"An entirety of melody/reflected in a pause." Christopher Watkins' visceral book Famished is remarkable for the wild tension between the concision of the lines and the vastness of the canvas. These poems inhabit the ephemeral as Issa did, yet they have a sense of time on the scale of history, even geology: "the line of demarcation where the sky becomes the water/is the seam that sews the first dawn to the last". Poems can be deeply meditational yet inscribed in the world of labor and contingency: "the copper we smelted died on the river,/orphaned the coal,/created poems that were willing to die." Watkins has a quiver of highly original forms and compelling themes; his voice is like no one else's.

—D. Nurkse, author of A Country of Strangers: New and Selected Poems


Christopher Watkins once wrote, “I wanted to keep one foot in the tradition, and one foot in the void,” and this credo, in the hands of a master musician who also cares deeply about language, has led to an astonishing banquet for the ear, mind, and heart. If form and chaos are the twin angels of poetry, Famished is a wild feast laid out on a swiftly moving freight train that can be enjoyed by wanderers and seraphim alike. Seeming non sequiturs set up questions that ring with the clarity of koans. Metaphors flash by with an otherworldly rasp (country blues legend Bukka White is described as “a mountain / built by earthquakes.”) At the heart of this book, Christopher Watkins unites compassion and fury to bend genres and create four inventive sequences that fuse linked-haiku with the blues. This is a stellar collection. 

—Theodore Deppe, author of Liminal Blue and Riverlight


Christopher Watkins chews his words carefully. He savors the resonance and mouthfeel of every syllable like an oenophile in search of the perfect pairing. Reading the poems in Famished is a tactile experience that engaged all my senses and left me sifting quiet stillness for the hint of a downbeat or melody. There is music, no doubt, in his many Kerouac-inspired haiku blues, but also wisdom, old and scuffed, with the corners dog-eared like a Moleskine notebook or a well-traveled paperback stuffed in a gig-bag pocket. In Famished, Watkins the poet and bluesman lays out a banquet on a blanket to honor all of his muses, drawing inspiration from this world, and beyond, to feed his soul, and slake his thirst for authenticity and transcendent truth. It’s some of his best work. And I published his first collection . . .

 —Brad Kuhn, founding board member, The Kerouac Project/Publisher, Shady Lane Press


It's rare to come across a poet like Christopher Watkins, whose observations are rendered so effortlessly that it's as if you're always in the room with him poem by poem. With Famished, we have the pleasure of seeing the world through his colorful, poetic lens, which is constantly readjusting itself to his senses and ours. A true poet's poet.

—Nathan Nicolau, founder/editor-in-chief of New Note Poetry


There is such music here, where Watkins reminds us of our existential condition, "such a crippling wildness—\sea, and its ferocity,/frigid animosity". Such humanness in this search for meaning in the everyday. "Try A Little Tenderness," Watkins implores us, before thrusting us "beneath the soulful/smoky funk-ink of the cosmos." Rich and meaty and overflowing with soul, Watkins' Famished will leave you anything but. 

—C. M. Tollefson, Cathexis Northwest Press


Christopher Watkins's second collection, Famished, testifies to a substantial deepening and refining of his craft since the publication of his first book, the also excellent Short Houses with Wide Porches, several years ago. Drawing in part upon family stories passed down by his Welsh coal-mining forebears, these new poems delve ever more deeply into the soul of the poet, and the angst of the world. Gorgeous images abound: "fishermen dip lines like mosquitoes into skin," "the sky a dirty parachute," "sunlight on mausoleum columns." Yet while Watkins has lost none of his keen eye for detail and can always be trusted to lay bare the hidden terrors beneath the mundane, these recent poems display a clarity and immediacy that sets them apart from his earlier work. Despite its title, Famished is a feast that will leave the reader deeply satisfied.

—Robert Lavett Smith, author of Sturgeon Moon and Calamity