a new poetry collection
by George Drew
978-1-948692-34-2 paper 18.95
978-1-948692-35-9 ebook 9.99
6×9, 76 pp.
Often it is said of contemporary music that it’s the soundtrack of our lives. If so, Drumming Armageddon is a poetic rendering of that soundtrack: Rock, Country, Jazz, Pop, Folk, The Blues—they’re the genres comprising it, and they all are present in this collection. The poems pay homage to the artists—Dylan, Clapton, Lennon, Crow, The Beatles, Elvis—and track the poet’s personal musical biography: his experiences and memories the music both relates to and marks. The poems, like the music, have plenty of swagger. Finally, though, they remind us that, at their best, poetry is music, music poetry.
George Drew is the author of eight poetry collections, with Pastoral Habits: New and Selected Poems, Down & Dirty and The View From Jackass Hill, winner of the 2010 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, all from Texas Review Press. His eighth, Fancy’s Orphan, appeared in 2017 with Tiger Bark Press. Drumming Armageddon is his ninth collection. Recently George won the Knightville Poetry Contest, The New Guard, his poem appearing in the 2017 edition, and two other poems as Honorable Mention in the Steve Kowit Poetry Contest, appeared in the 2018 and 2019 San Diego Poetry Anthology. He was a recipient of the Bucks County Muse Award in 2016 for contributions to the Bucks County PA literary community. Recently, one of his poems from Fancy’s Orphan appeared in Verse Daily. George’s biography will appear in Mississippi Poets: A Literary Guide, University of Mississippi Press, edited by Catherine Savage Brosman.
Studio drummers use the phrase “In the Pocket” when they want to talk about being in that sweet spot right on the beat and tucked straight away into a song. That is exactly where you’ll find George Drew’s voice in the poems of Drumming Armageddon. Drew spins his turntable through the history of electric music from rock-n-roll icons like Chuck Berry, Elvis, the Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, to blues giants like Stevie Ray Vaughn. The poems render these characters much better than any history book could, and what’s even more impressive, the lines ride the melodies of the music in and out of personal narratives deftly telling family stories and offering tributes to friends who’ve passed away. This book rocks like a greatest hits album, and this poet turns in a performance as memorable as any front man could.
—Jack B. Bedell, Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019
Surely all good poets, especially the ones born in Mississippi, think of their poetry as a sort of blues. George Drew’s Drumming Armageddon is, without question, not merely a celebration of the blues, but the blues in fact. Oh, he channels such heavyweights as Chuck Berry, Gladys Knight, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Aretha, Roy Orbison and so on, but Drew knows the blues are love, how you somehow keep going and keep caring in spite of a world that seems always just a breath away from Armageddon, a terrible world of anger and pain and death. Aptly, he leaves us with Charlie Parker blowing his sax on a lonely country road, playing to a cow. He leaves us wrung out and worn out and whole, putting our envies and sins aside for a little while and saying, Lord have mercy, that boy can sing.
—Jack Butler, Author of Broken Hallelujah
George finds not only the sound but the images to transform words into the full musical/emotional cascade of the blues that emanate from an any artist’s soul. This is poetry and music speaking together at its best, and it uncovers a human dignity that we all share. It is a mélange of hope and spirit set against the inevitability of time. And in that last section we find the title poem, “Drumming Armageddon,” in which a “doper” entering middle age becomes a “ferocious drummer … twirling his sticks high over his head … drumming Armageddon into exile
—Poet Jared Smith. Author of That’s How It Is
Smartly crafted and accessible to all, George Drew’s Drumming Armageddon matches the soundtrack of classic rock with classic poems about living the emotions that produced those songs. Mama finds new ways to introduce the blues into her life; Granny, Bible by her side, can’t resist the hard-rockin’ energy of Sheryl Crow; friends like Zak and Herbie have endings as disastrous as any rock star. Meanwhile, Elvis is alive and living at the Arthur Crudup Old Age Home, and Roy Orbison can be spotted in, of all places, Machu Picchu. Like Granny, I believe in the Lord, buttermilk biscuits, and crowder peas, and I believe that George Drew, who has consistently been finding ways to delight us in poetry since the 1980s, can write an engaging poem about darned near anything.
—David Dooley, author of The Volcano Inside and The Revenge by Love,
to be reissued by Red Hen Press in one volume as The Long Conversation
Drumming Armageddon is a wonderful celebration of music, rich with personal memory. There are stunning odes to the likes of Chuck Berry and Aretha Franklin, while other poems demystify guitar gods like Eric Clapton, reminding us that he too is human and suffered immense pain, due to the loss of his son. The collection contains whiffs of childhood memories, like the scent of Mama’s biscuits in the oven. There are poems set in the backseat of a Chevy, under Oregon stars, while “Louie, Louie” rocks on the radio. There is an acknowledgement, too, that some musical personas and songs can’t be fully understood and appreciated until one is a bit older. Overall, Drumming Armageddon has a lot of swagger. It reminds us that the old cliché, “music is the soundtrack of our lives,” is very much true. Give these poems a read, and then, make a playlist of your favorite songs and see what memories they document.
—Brian Fanelli, Pedestal Magazine