Dear Richard Siken,
My pre-ordered copy of War of the Foxes finally arrived. I held the book in my hands, thumbing the soft matte film. I had been waiting patiently to read the milk-blue back, to read each new poem for months since I had heard about the new collection. I have been a fan since I was taken by Crush, the book that has most influenced me as a poet.
I love your melancholy. Both Crush and War of the Foxes are like a perfect sad song. And some people don’t like sad songs, but I want to be crushed.
And I was, with War of the Foxes. I am active as I think of my response to the speaker’s questions “Why live a life? Well, why are you asking?” I’m in the poems as I wonder if I will defend myself or take up arms. I am let into a narrative, an argument, to revelations that seem so blatant, like they have been here all along, hiding underneath a sheet. Facts resound in your sure tone, and I believe you when you say:
“This is how we measure, walking away,”
“History is painted by the winners,”
“People like to think war means something.”
These are explanations of machine, of tool, of man-handed-weapon, of word and number. There’s an intimate violence reflected in these origin stories of love, of war, and of what happens when you run.
In a recent interview, you said:
“I made a thing. It works or it doesn’t, but that’s all you get. You don’t need everything. You think you want more but you really don’t. I won’t tell you what I see. I won’t tell you how I want you to feel about it. I won’t tell you where it came from.”
War of the Foxes is carefully crafted in its doppelgänger language where milk-blue becomes blue-milked, and in the uncanny sense of doubles that run through the collection, that mirror each other like far-off twins. Each image is a live moment confronting us, or walking away as we look at its back, calling its name to turn around.