Blue Colonial Cover

Blue Colonial


In Blue Colonial, David Roderick memorializes his hometown by excavating and re-imagining its individual and collective histories. Set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where English colonists first settled in 1620, Blue Colonial uses dramatic and narrative effects to explore the burdens of historical inheritance: vanished Native American tribes, the seeds of American culture, and our physical and psychological encroachment upon the natural landscape. Whether he is writing about historical legacy or his own backyard, Roderick has arrived at a voice of distinct solitariness and precise observation. With passion and sly wit, he has composed a strangely luminous book, a poetry collection that resonates with gravity, fine music, and a deep regard for the task of being human in the world. With an introduction by Robert Pinsky.


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“Here is a poet’s true evocation of time, of the fact that we all are destined to live in the puzzling, enticing tragi-comedy of our cultural and personal origins. David Roderick has imagined that destiny in a memorable new way.”

— Robert Pinsky

“David Roderick’s poems are exquisitely made with language that is rich and precise. He convinces us that we are all pilgrims committing our acts of courage as well as our little crimes. This book is immensely rewarding”

— James Tate

“These eloquent poems show, in line after line, how charged and poignant is the intersection between history and memory. These are poems of hidden lives, where the power of colony often yields to the love of place. This is an outstanding debut collection.”

— Eavan Boland

“In Blue Colonial, David Roderick’s astonishingly accomplished collection of poems, Roderick continually ‘roam[s] the periphery’ in search of something new. What he finds there by way of salvage, excavation, renovation, and restoration is a ‘new language to weigh each item’ of his recoveries. And what he demonstrates in a steady and equable fashion is the over-arching lesson of art and life: ‘the harder something was, the better chance…of finding it.’ I’m grateful for what Roderick’s roaming has produced, these poems that bring the periphery of American history, collective and personal, into sharp, material focus. In doing this Blue Colonial provides a fresh entrance into the future of American poetry.”

— Michael Collier

“Indeed, every thing included in these poems can be read as a sign-from the memento mori that is ‘a wasp nest inside a skull,’ to cordwood to rabbit pelts to beans. Even throwaway objects are imbued with significance; each carries a secret world of its own. The broader historical renderings, along with a fine attention to minute particulars, gives this book a quiet luminosity caught in the undertow of a eulogized past. If, as Roderick writes, ‘We need a new language to weigh each item,’ each object and fact of history, this book takes us a good deal of the way.”

— Emily Rosko

The Missouri Review

Blue Colonial gavottes between concerns of historical and personal heritage in an invigorating interplay of separate narratives… As the collection evolves, the speaker and his masked colonial surrogates ride a collision course, and the detachment provided by the tales of Plymouth Plantation allows the poet to resist romanticism while simultaneously lifting the veils that obscure and conceal.”

— Michelle Lewis

The Gettysburg Review

Blue Colonial is a beautifully crafted collection… Roderick is extraordinarily adept at giving us sensory access to the past.”

— Kelle Groom

The Florida Review

“With a lyric yet reticent voice, Roderick’s poems illuminate how poetry as well as history can turn ‘a pile of junk’ into ‘a kind of faith.’”

— The Poetry Foundation

“The lives and thoughts of the Pilgrims seem remote from modern culture, something relegated to Plimoth Plantation and reading The Scarlet Letter in high school. David Roderick disputes that notion, and in his book, Blue Colonial, he weaves together poems, both historical and autobiographical to illustrate how past and present intertwine and bear upon one another.”

— The Old Colony Memorial