Praise from the introduction to Jeff's chapbook, What I
Didn’t know, which appeared in the chapbook anthology
Passionalte Lives (Queen of Swords Press, 1998).
“We are lit from inside,” Jeff Walt reminds us, “with constant desire.” This fine first collection seems, indeed, illuminated in just this way. These poems are brave enough to stand right in the middle of longing and to sing about it, but it’s to Walt’s credit that his representation of desire is no simple thing. “Sweet desire has bruised/my lips and swells in my lucky mouth” he tells us in one poem. A less complicated vision might call desire merely sweet and lucky, or merely bruising; Jeff Walt sees it both ways, and the tension in theses poems makes them feel charged and alive. Here is a voice capable of rendering shame and joy, of representing sexuality without being simplistic or idealizing. The world revealed in these poems is one of blessings and trouble, of tender gestures flanked by violence, of the graceful and disfiguring imprints left upon us by all the ways we’re loved. These poems cleave to the difficult stuff of truth: not how we’re supposed to see or think or feel, but what it’s like to want, to be hurt, to lust, to love. Here’s as brave and resourceful a young poet as you could wish for, openhearted, naked but for the beautiful clothes of his language, and genuine to the core.”
-- Mark Doty