The Name Museum

by Nick McRae

In his stunning new book The Name Museum, Nick McRae reminds us that every name is, finally, a museum, an elegy, a narrative, and that all narrative becomes translation of place—and the collective voice of place—sometimes “mythic, bloody as a psalm.” McRae’s formal control always certain, ever graceful, these poems fuse harshness, longing, loss, spirituality, and beauty with the “sweat and rapture” of the very best poetry.

— Claudia Emerson, author of Secure the Shadow

The hard evidence we gather from history and local lore, from tradition and experience, determines what we believe—or so we are inclined by logic to believe. And yet we linger more over the truths that defy belief. It is a strange paradox but one Nick McRae finds everywhere he trains his vision. An email from God, an homage to a one-armed barber, snakes and trucks, saints and prophets: this is the grist of a wonderful book of poetry, half apocalypse and half love-song. It is also the work of a young poet skilled in his craft and clearly devoted to his art.

— Maurice Manning, author of The Gone and the Going Away

Nick McRae’s The Name Museum takes us from rural Georgia to the Czech Republic and back, but we are always still in the mindscape of the Bible, which McRae loves but with a certain finely textured wariness. McRae’s poems know as much of sweat as of rapture, and the poems are alive with a vivid connectedness to family, the world, and song itself. When McRae speaks of family “long buried,” he says: “But daddy taught me the fiddle, and mama / sang her hymns so sweet they shimmied / out her throat and into mine.” His music is true, rapturous, and enrapturing.

—Andrew Hudgins, author of A Clown at Midnight