The Americans Cover

The Americans


The Americans pledges its allegiance to dirt. And to laptops. And to swimming pools, the Kennedys, a flower in a lapel, plastic stars hanging from the ceiling of a child’s room, churning locusts, a jar of blood, a gleam of sun on the wing of a plane. His poems swarm with life. They also ask an unanswerable question: What does it mean to be an American? Restless against the borders we build—between countries, between each other—Roderick roams from place to place in order to dig into the messy, political, idealistic and ultimately inexplicable idea of American-ness. His rangy, inquisitive lyrics stitch together a patchwork flag, which he stakes alongside all the noise of our construction, our obsessive building and making, while he imagines the fate of a nation built on desire.


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The Americans is a compelling meditation on the ways we go about our lives at this cultural moment, often unmoored from the facts of history though we drift along its shores. Part complicated love letter to suburbia, these poems demand that we consider not only what we are drawn to but also what we fail to see, how the apocryphal feeds our cultural amnesia. The poet asks: Must nostalgia/walk like a prince through all our rooms?  This lovely collection shows us a way to confront that question within ourselves.”

— Natasha Trethewey

Former U.S. Poet Laureate

“Like Robert Frank in his great photo essay of the same name, Roderick has some news for us: not only do we not know where we’ve come from, we don’t know where we are. With care and a restorative watchfulness, he has made terrific poetry out of our drifting in the fog.”

— David Rivard

“The mindfulness and torque of this beautiful collection may be judged by the double drift of its epigraph: Nous sommes tous Américains. Words of solidarity, words of aspiration, words (too often) of chagrin or shame. De Toqueville to Moose Lodge to Trail of Tears: the whole rich mix of it is here, in poems exquisitely conceived and rendered.”

— Linda Gregerson

“It’s sort of remarkable the way David Roderick makes such gorgeous music of the deep and abiding loneliness of which our lives—and our nations and dreams—sometimes, often, are made. It’s the music, the beauty, after all, that’s balm to all this sorrow. The Americans reminds me of this.”

— Ross Gay

“This is one book that shall never leave my hands. Roderick is over and above more original than some well-touted poets. How have I missed him?””

— Julie Suk

“One of the three or four finest books I read in 2014, The Americans is an invaluable book for our time, one whose lines will echo in my head as I walk the ghostly quiet, haunted streets of my own suburban home and remember what brought me here even as I search for what might still be possible in such a place.”

— Brian Simoneau, THE RUMPUS

“Reading [Galway] Kinnell and Roderick in tandem this way — both of European descent, both concerned with private and American mythologies, with family and history, both in possession of an original and vital language jones — renews my sometimes flagging faith in the ability of poetry to be both political and personal, culturally attuned and aesthetically moving, private and social.”

— Lisa Russ Spaar, LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

“David Roderick’s latest poetry collection, The Americans, is like a massive magnet that draws diverse objects into its field—as any successful book attempting to distill “Americanness” should. A “diary with the trick lock,” “a cherry tree falling,” the collapse of the twin towers, the plastic carts at Target, John F. Kennedy’s death, David Lynch, David Hockney, mothers, Ireland, the Middle East, and fast food restaurants—these are just a few of the wide-ranging materials Roderick amasses around his central lyric about American life, and stunningly so.”

— Sarah Katz, HEAVY FEATHER REVIEW

“What Roderick is expressing here are the deeply difficult and contradictory emotions of national identity and the kind of influence one’s nationality could or should have upon individual life—particularly when one’s country is acting unethically.”

— Andrew Allport, COLORADO REVIEW

“In David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, a complicated national citizenry emerges, stirred by dreams and privileges, violence and regret, utterly insistent on borders, however blurred they may be, and intent on home as a pastoral heartland.”

— Ben Jackson, THE IOWA REVIEW

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to juggle the often competing demands of beauty and the avant-garde, but David Roderick somehow manages the trick, especially in a series of searing, sardonic poems titled “Dear Suburb,” where “The dead return / as lampposts, gas guzzlers, // gnats frenzied / in a laptop’s moonish glow.”

— David Starkey, SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT