David Huddle grew up in Ivanhoe, Virginia, a company town located on the New River. He served in the Army in Vietnam and earned degrees from Hollins College, the University of Virginia and Columbia University. For 38 years he was a professor at the University of Vermont and still lives in Burlington. This is his 9th poetry book to go with a dozen works of fiction. “Every so often, you might return to a friend’s earlier offhand comment, realizing that the observation―so casually offered―was in fact piercingly on-point. Such is the unique tell-it-slant style of David Huddle’s volume, My Surly Heart, in which his rigorously conversational talk lays bare what’s unsaid in our public and private lives. The surprise lies beneath his down-home geniality. By asking nonchalant questions in many near-pentameter sonnets―such as “What Are You Up To?” and “How Do You Feel About Your Body?”― or by piling up atmospheric layers of musical bliss in the long-lined “How to Enter a Cosmic Quirk,” his colloquially intimate voice sets off uncanny jolts of insight. -- Kevin Clark. “David Huddle’s My Surly Heart constellates something of a life review, from homeplace eccentrics―the wry stories we’d expect from this poet―to wrestling conformity’s demons and the shame that stings a man when he no longer has the excuse of being green. There’s regret in lines laced with no regret, a cold look at the real, which flickers at the feeder quicker than any songbird. The poet’s patient spirit of observation of himself and the world brings us many sonorous pleasures in his sonnets and other forms, which rush at us with urgency and insight, sentences pushing into lines, and lines stringing meaning along to revelations of emotion.” – Cathryn Hankla.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2019. 61 pages. Trade paperback.