Anthony Butts is author of Fifth Season, Evolution, and Little Low Heaven, which was awarded the 2004 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. His work appears on Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers: Black Poets Read Their Work; in Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers; and in American Poetry: The Next Generation. A Detroit native, he is a graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Also by Anthony Butts
$12.00 paper | $22.00 cloth
ISBN: 978-0-932826-53-4 (paper)
ISBN: 978-0-932826-52-7 (cloth)
Publication Date: 1997
52 Pages | Foreword by Sherod Santos
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Winner of the Small Press Book Award for 1998
Winner of Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal Award
This book represents a mental construct of salvation. It portrays the individual way in which a person saves the psyche. Fifth Season is an amalgamation of losses transformed into a state of serenity for the individual. The fifth season is that imaginary place where time becomes less relevant, where the poet attempts to make sense of the tangible world around him. The fifth season represents a unique path, one which may not be traveled twice. It is the imaginary construct of a season of hope.
"Fifth Season is, I think, both proof and exemplar of Chekhov’s claim that art exists to prepare the soul for tenderness. For perhaps the greatest accomplishment of this book is the way it manages to preserve, however brutal its subject matter, a raw susceptibility to the most mute and ineffable moments of wonder: the dazed Japanese girls at a late-night diner 'shaking the slight chill / of Detroit autumn from their hair;' an orphaned child forming ‘a reservoir in the sand, / Lake Michigan stilled at the border;' the Braille kids from the elementary school who 'drift out into the fields / to take the swings before noon, / and only physics / keeps them from flying' . . . This is a book whose demons and angels are equally acknowledged, equally real, and equally allotted their place in the poems. That any first book can manage such a feat is, in itself, remarkable; that Anthony Butts has done it in a style and a music all his own is a triumph not only of his art, but of his own indomitable spirit as well. In another time, we might have called this 'grace.'"
—from the foreword by Sharod Santos
Detroit, City of Straits
February finds a likeness of spring in this unicorn
embossed bedspread. Warm in its closeness, his palm
rest flat against his thigh. Downstairs, the chicken
is frying. The greasy smell wells up through the floorboards
of his small room, a kitchenette for a family cramped
into the upper-half of a one family house from the 30s.
The old stovepipe hole in the roof allows sleet
into a rubber bucket beside his bed
in the only room of the house without heat.
His breath rises on the loose clouds of winter blowing through rags
stuffed between a broken window and its screen.
He dresses quietly in the reservoir of dusk; the time is coming
to run errands for his father, to go looking for the younger brother
running in the streets with those girls from the neighborhood high school,
to go and buy a Bible with the money his mother
gave him, to look up those passages
that his pastor dunked him for last week.