Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer
Oct 29, 2020 | ISBN 978-1-936919-85-7
paperback | 118 pages
In loudest when startled, his powerful first collection of poems, lukas ray hall melds beauty and terror to explore America’s gun culture. Born into a hunting family in Minnesota, hall describes with chilling precision the damage inflicted on animal and human bodies alike. “how a safety/ means nothing/ how the bullet sputters/ then blooms” he writes in “how a bullet works.” But hall is also an outsider, bearing witness to the horrors that attend our national obsession—a brother’s suicide, police shootings, mass shootings, including at schools. “… eight students / were struck/by the brash /head of a bullet / during their second / period class/at their tiny/wooden desks.” The strength in these poems comes from their emotional complexity. hall never sits in judgement. “i become deer” he writes, “become family / a brother / teaching a brother / how to aim down / the sight.” loudest when startled is an honest, unsparing book— all the more reason for its necessity.
—Ellen Bass, Indigo
The language of loudest when startled—direct, exquisite—bristles with yearning and violence. ‘[W]herever my brother is / i am with him,’ lukas ray hall writes, aware that his brother’s intimacy with hunting and guns divides them while it also connects them. Proximity to violence, as hall acutely makes clear, is a fact of our society. It kindles fear, depression, and an instinctual flight response. hall never truly flees, though. In these poems, he sets his hurt next to his brother’s hurt. This book is beautifully crafted, emotionally rich. I wept when I finished reading it.
—Eduardo C. Corral, Guillotine
In loudest when startled we find the world of the hunter and hunted strikingly rendered and melded with that of the poet who is neither hunter nor hunted, but haunted by the echoes of violence ringing outward and inward and ever louder. Through vivid, arresting imagery and the iconography of firearms, these poems explore the damage guns inflict, both physically and psychically.
—Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture
loudest when startled
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About loudest when startled
The poems in loudest when startled, lukas ray hall’s debut collection, explore the ways in which gun violence has become part of the fundamental nature of relationships, family, and American masculinity—so much so that the bullet has been rendered benign, just another news story, just another obituary, just another walk down the street. The poetry in loudest when startled follows two brothers born into gun culture as they navigate their relationship to anger, loss, and guns in entirely different ways with different outcomes yet leaving us with a sense that we are all both predator and prey.
About lukas ray hall
lukas ray hall was born and raised near the Twin Cities, MN. He is the author of loudest when startled (YesYes Books, 2020). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Atlanta Review, The Florida Review, the minnesota review, Midway Journal, Raleigh Review, Moon City Review, Prime Number Magazine, Lindenwood Review, Sierra Nevada Review, along with other journals. He is the winner of the 2013 Patsy Lea Core Living Memorial Award in Creative Writing and holds an MFA from Pacific University, a BFA from Hamline University, and an AFA from Normandale Community College. Lukas currently works as a production editor. He lives with his partner and two pets in St. Paul.