Waifs and Strays
City Lights Spotlight No. 6
"Though raised in Baton Rouge, La., Ballard now seems energetically tied to San Francisco, since his offhand intensities, fiercely casual stance, quick free verse, and colloquial mysticism draw so frequently on two great sources of Bay Area poetics, the prophetic concentration of Robert Duncan and the extroversion of the beats. Often he builds bridges from a bohemian life in this world to greatness in the next. 'Pools of Olympia' (which may refer to Greek gods or to hard liquor, or to both) imagines 'smashed glass gutter core/ exact proportions darkly mingled... the highest farewell between heaven and earth.' Ballard explains in a longer poem how 'Alive/ in being gone/ I seek what you have not/ & dilate my margins/ to form a heaven/ underground.' Ballard updates his sources with hip-hop and indie-rock references (Guided by Voices, Morrissey), presenting his own inner quests as ambivalent models: 'what some find as flaws/ I claim as divine rites/ do not try to follow me/ it's up to you to stake out/ your own fortress.' Ballard (Parish Krewes) comes by his beat heritage personally, having studied with, and then worked alongside, David Meltzer. Followers of Meltzer’s lineage, or of beat writing in general, may find him not just engaging but irreplaceable."
"Micah's poems are intimate shadows or like little machines that pump ghosts into the empty rooms in the brain." —Ben Mirov
Big Bridge 16
"Ballard blurs the lines between concrete and surreal: a postmodern flaneur influenced by Baudelaire as well as the surrealist poets. Concrete San Francisco images ground the work. Cathedral towers, streets like Fillmore and Divisadero, Steiner & McCallister."
"Highly stylized, fairly experimental, and original, the poems rely on sequential 'disruption' underpinned by a solidly smoldering focus. The thematic transference of significance becomes a mantra of sustenance amidst an arranged wilderness, 'It is all imagined, anchored by the word.'"
"Each poem builds with an inexorable seethe, a penchant for intoxication and risk that never lets you forget you're reading real poetry again, at last. . . With his wealth of promise and the most incandescent flights and stilnesses of this book [Ballard] joins the ranks of people like Bob Kaufman, Jimmy Schuyler, Lester Bangs in his Creem days, or the Alice Notley of Mysteries of Small Houses. It's that deeply felt, and that moving, a new Romanticism built upon the classical language of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, an affirmation of life so total that, even in the graphic recognition of death, it sweeps your breath away." —Greg Fuchs
Poetry Project Newsletter
"Micah Ballard's Waifs and Strays is the stuff of legend . . . These poems account for his travels, illuminating his experience through shadows he casts for us on the walls." —Justin Sherwood
"These poems bespeak a poet in touch with the world including its light. . . . Distilled hard to diamonds, these poems transcend what one may write as prose about them. To write about these poems is to miss their nature." —Eileen Tabios