Brett Eugene Ralph and Steve Albini Read

Sep ’09
3:00 pm

black sabbatical

Brett Eugene Ralph, whom Harmony Korine calls “a true beast of a man with insight and beauty to spare” and whose work has been described by Will Oldham as “an excuse for hope . . . sustaining, inspiring, even rescuing” will read at Quimby’s from his book Black Sabbatical. When asked about his influences, Brett Eugene Ralph points to three enduring sources: growing up Southern working class in the 1970s and 80s, playing in punk rock bands, and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Not a likely combination for a poet, perhaps, but one that has brought forth Black Sabbatical, a debut collection that sings with gutbucket colloquialisms, hallucinatory interludes, and the storytelling tradition of Kentucky. Riled and immediate, the voice that booms from Black Sabbatical is of a seeker tearing the place apart, unafraid to see things for himself, to sing what he has seen, or to say what the long road that led here has cost him.

“[Brett Eugene Ralph is] a poet as honest and a debut collection as consistently strong as anything else currently out there.”
-Michael O. Mayberry, Alabama Writers’ Forum

Southern gothic meets alt-country twang, and rural hardship meets terse postpunk sophistication [as] Ralph’s troubled characters and dissonant outbursts evoke a self-destructive youth: “It’s like somebody choking on a car horn,” one poem ends, “or something metal being born.” Ralph’s rough free verse recalls the deep Ozark surrealism of Frank Stanford and the early poems of Denis Johnson, though neither precursor takes on quite the same blend of upper South present and past.” –Publishers Weekly

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Also joining the bill is Chicago producer and musician Steve Albini, who will read some short fiction. He’s been writing short fiction for years. Did you know that?