Author: Scott Lowery
Publisher: Red Dragonfly Press (2023)
2nd Edition. Chosen by Red Dragonfly Press founder Scott King “for its voice and for its reverent treatment of place and labor,” Empty-Handed won the press’s Emergence Chapbook Prize in 2013. This expanded second edition preserves King’s original spare design, while seven additional poems widen the book’s narrative arc, weaving together indelible episodes of early jobs, family bonds, and learning experiences in unexpected places.
Lowery’s language is musical and emotionally charged throughout, perhaps especially in those poems that explore father-son relationships. The book’s field-of-view also encompasses stray bits of Americana: a New England chair factory, an indigenous petroglyph in the Sonoran Desert, blues legend Howlin’ Wolf in performance, a box of 1950s Cuban cigars.
“These poems of first family and found family, neighbors and strangers, unfold in ‘sharp-edged lines and loose turns,’ even as they gallop with lyrical music. By Scott Lowery’s skilled hand, Empty-Handed is as clear and fathomless as the moments and conversations he returns to in order to bring forth these tales of time and place and people. Empty-Handed yields rich treasure. It’s like an instruction manual for going back, for how to remember, for the way love can endure in memories.”
—Michael Kleber-Diggs, poet, author of Worldly Things, Winner of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize