Country, Living

Country-Living Published June 2020

New book of poetry
new book of poems 2020

Publishers Weekly Review:  Country, Living


Library Journal: Country, Living

by Ira Sadoff  Alice James. Jun. 2020. 100p. ISBN 9781948579100. pap. $16.95.

 A widely respected, anthologized, and awarded writer of both poetry and fiction, Sadoff is regarded as something of an elder statesman among poets. Here he returns with his eighth collection of poetry (after True Faith) to continue his exploration of culture and memory. In his mild, melancholic surrealism, he is at times reminiscent of James Tate, at times of Frederick Seidel. His manner allows him to throw disjunctive matter together, but the effect, in the best poems, goes beyond surprise to oblique illumination of the poet’s private sorrows and the country’s public ones: “Maybe we make up things to figure out the great/ divide, when to cross it.” Throughout, Sadoff looks back at driving cultural forces and acknowledges what he may not have understood at the time. Music, especially jazz, is a recurring motif, and the bond between freedom and invention is not a bad image for Sadoff’s own procedures in the lyric.

VERDICT An excellent introduction to the concerns and style of one of the most characteristic voices in poetry today, this collection is both timely and touching.

profile picn.jpg
a sampling of poems
“1988”APR “1988”
” I Never Needed Things,” The New Yorker I Never Needed Things
PLUME interview and poems PLUME interview and poems

“There is an ecstatic abandon in these poems—and there is also the knowledge of experience, of our end. It’s a book where the essential, elemental force is given a vivid, unmistakable voice: “A good plan / to live by: I survived a tornado, / a marriage, a war…/ Many loved the sheen of cheerfulness, / but the animal in me kept on growling.” The poet is always announcing his love for this world, yet is first to admit: “I know I’m worth fifteen cents to the universe.” This honesty, this vivid and open contradiction is the key to staying awake in this new century of our failed empire. Ira Sadoff shows us how to listen to the fire of the lyric, how to become its “favorite stranger.” It is a beautiful, wise book.”
–Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

“Ira Sadoff’s Country, Living, has so much goddamned soul, by which I mean the thicket of hurt, shittalk, analysis, Eros, mourning, and love made into truly beautiful music.  Music that somehow makes me breathe different, makes my actual body be different.  Music that makes my solitude, my sorrow, crack the window.  It feels so lucky to be in the presence and care of such soul.  Such poetry.”

–Ross Gay, author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and The Book of Delights

” To read an Ira Sadoff poem is to experience a dizzying journey. A single poem might move from the culturally and historically informed cynicism of his dominant tone, to introspection, even irrational joy— a movement which becomes part of the subject matter itself and which is powered by the magical workings of humor and the stubbornness of hope.  With each book hope and joy gain a little more ground, despite the accrual of reasons to despair. I go to Sadoff’s poems for their rich honesty, their deep humanness, their complexity of vision and their energy. He is original, wholly relevant ….indispensable. “

–Jane Mead, author of To the Wren

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Interviews/New poetry/Jazz writing

Plumepoetry-interview with Nancy Mitchell

C.K. Williams interview Video interview

New Yorker “I Never Needed Things”  new poetry

Academy of American Poets poem-a-day “A Few Surprising Turns” new poetry

American Poetry Review “1988” new poetry

Jazz writing: Best American Poetry jazzing poetry

Jazz writing: Best American Poetry Coltrane and David Murray imagination-and-improvisation

Jazz writing: Best American Poetry Defamiliarizing the familiar

Jazz writing: Best American Poetry Blue and Sentimental

Structure: New England Review Poetic Memory, Poetic Design

True Faith

True Faith

Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd.
ISBN: 9781934414828 (86pp)

Purchase True Faith at

“Ira Sadoff is a master of language, concentration, of vision, of knowledge, of irony. If there are ten important poets writing in English today, he is one of them.”
—Gerald Stern

“Ira Sadoff’s True Faith both yearns for and calls into question the mechanisms for creating transcendence. He writes, ‘we all have one breath, it?s the same breath’ and our humanness drives us toward a myriad of sins. Each creates for himself a god, be it religious, artistic, economic or political, which brings miracles of beauty into his life…These remarkable poems are ultimately profound and unflinching meditations on how to understand all that is lacking in a life remembered. This insightful and timely collection continues to secure his reputation as one of our preeminent poets.”

—Claudia Rankine (author of Citizen)

Listen to Sadoff read five poems from True Faith at From the Fishouse:

History Matters

History Matters: Contemporary Poetry on the Margins of America Culture

Publisher: University of Iowa Press
ISBN-13: 9781587297977 (228pp)

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From the Publisher:
“In plainspoken writing, he [Sadoff] probes the question of the poet’s capacity to illuminate and universalize truth. Along the way, we are called to consider how and why art moves and transforms human beings”

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