One of the great rewards of Paul Genega’s work (and for his readers there are many rewards to reap) is the poet’s immense and sophisticated apprehension of history. In his latest collection, Genega seizes much literary reference, encyclopedic fragment, information, and catalog. This book is not, however, simple recitation, for Genega fully charges all this material with a relentless, brutal, loving, hilarious sense of play, by which I mean intelligent trickery, political hoopla, linguistic shenanigans and—above all—good music. Genega holds together anachronisms, mythology, newsroom rhetoric, ritual, and burlesque to compose poems that are both delightful and disorienting. The collection culminates in the stunning long poem “Shays’ Rebellion,” an anti-romantic and anti-nostalgic satire-collage which takes to task our long list of American tyrants, tycoons, sycophants, and buffoons. In Sculling on the Lethe, Paul Genega doesn’t just tell the story of a nation’s crackpot suffering, he makes that story swing.
Throughout this collection, Genega has his hands on the pulse of America's forgotten promises and ever-growing tyranny. Our reward in reading is the poet's intellectual rigor and ability to be linguistically and visually playful.
Debra DeMattio, Journal of New Jersey Poets
Finalist, Eugene Paul Nasser Poetry Prize.
Salmon Poetry, 2018, 64pp. salmonpoetry.com