In Our Tongues Are Songs, Rico Craig pursues the intimate, the voices people use as they speak to their private fears. Craig brings his unique ear for lyricism, his eye for human need, to bear on the promises people make to themselves as they attempt to find solace, companionship and meaning. His haunting use of image fills the day-to-day world with the uncanny — bats are comforted by children, old women weep tattoos, the earth burns, television stars comfort teenagers as they struggle with anorexia, encroaching sands spill the dead into an unnamed city. This book spans voices, generations and countries; it sides with the young and old as they try to carve their humanity from the swirls of despair.
‘These poems of bone, sky, night and earth pulse with danger and exaltation. Selves spectral, imagined and embodied dissolve the solitary ‘I’ to imagine flocks of selves, dancing with knives in their hands, standing on rooftops, never forgetting what it is to be at our wildest. They overflow with loosened energy, yet their crafting is meticulous, brilliant and exact.’
‘It is very hard not to love a collection that features a poem called “There are various narrative arcs in seasons 5, 6, and 7 of Full House that remain unresolved”. Indeed this is a collection that refuses resolution – individual poems may bring a singular persona into focus but Our Tongues Are Songs is a chorus of our crumbling contemporary urban spaces. Just as the chorus in Greek drama offers commentary on the action occurring, the personas of Our Tongues Are Songs sing to us of the everyday tragedies that accumulate into larger injustices through the breakdowns of people, banks, markets, societies and ecosystems. Rico Craig manages an unerringly ambitious feat: toeing the line between the beauty of his lyric song, where each line falls true, and an acknowledgment of the ugly truth that even words are capital of a sort.’
‘Rico Craig’s writing is entirely necessary. His new collection invites you into a world that feels inevitable, like it’s been waiting for you to find it. Each piece compels you to read on, scrawling new moments and experiences onto your heart, like they’ve always belonged to you. Craig takes sentiment, and scrawls it onto the page with ink and skin. His poems are an interplay of emotion and earth. His continuous images roll into each other, and you, as they blanket you with stories of slow loss, and quiet hope. Craig writes like our bodies are vessels for memory; his pieces filled with character and visceral personality, each line singing its partner’s praise.’