No person is made in a vacuum; they’re shaped by their country and the systems that control it, and by laying bare the dark truths about his family, Driscoll subtly traces effects that capitalism, misogyny, and the military industrial complex have had on Americans. These concerns pulse through the collection. Driscoll cannot tell the story of his brother without calling him “that one soldier I loved,” cannot provide an authentic account of his parents’ marriage without mentioning the physical, emotional abuse, and the inability for his parents to call each other by their names. What emerges from Driscoll’s collage of grief and memory is a vision of a battered, loving family he adores that has been immersed in a sick country.
If that sickness can be named as any one thing in Champion of Doubt it is repression—a pressure from American society to “hold your tongue and mind the fire,” that applies to the individual as much as it applies to how American history and myth are shared. Yet poetry, and art of any kind, defiantly rejects repression, and by naming it for what it is and the maladies it causes, Driscoll “set[s] the prisoner free.” He shows readers that there is freedom, and hope, in failure and disaster if only we can honestly acknowledge them.
Takeaway: Stark poems of an American family whose damage parallels their country.
Comparable Titles: Rita Dove’s Family Reunion, Gary Snyder.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Tom will be reading a few poems from his new book, The Champion of Doubt (in pre-sale at Finishing Line Press until June 2nd!)