Richard Newman’s All the Wasted Beauty of the World is masterful and magnetic, from the “galaxy of gnats” hovering in the St. Louis twilight to the way a backwoods junkyard “gnaws on a pile of old Ford bones.” He sees a group of bored high school kids with “nothing to lose/ but stupid summer jobs and innocence,” and captures with perfect acuity how “September rain in streetlight/ silvers the cypress needles, scatters new dimes/ among the nuisance alley mulberry trees.” Newman’s poems, with their formal, lapidary precision, their indelible portraits of life in the cheap bars, back alleys, and rough-hewn edges of the Midwest, surprise a hunger in us for a language larger, wilder, and unabashedly loftier than daily speech.
—George Bilgere, author of Imperial
The poems in Richard Newman’s remarkable third collection, All the Wasted Beauty of the World, are heady explorers. They roam from Lost Man Pass to Benton Park, from downtown St. Louis to Southern Indiana, all the while balancing gorgeous musicality with lyric originality. In the midst of the wandering, there is longing in these poems—for place, for order, for morning. There is urgency, too, and beauty, wasted and otherwise, in places we don’t always expect it. Newman is a bold and masterful formalist in a free-verse world, and he uses sonnets, aubades, villanelles, and odes to reconcile the geographies of the interior and exterior. Again and again, this collection makes us recalibrate our true north and forces us to reconsider the world for all of the unpredictable places where we can find beauty.
—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
Newman uses the power of recollection and imagery to craft odes, sonnets, villanelles, ballads, and free verse with titles like “Four Kids Pissing off the Overpass after a Cardinals Game.” Each poem calls our attention to a rough-and-tumble, everyday America we often drive past but overlook. All the Wasted Beauty of the World returns us to the real and, consequently, the new by putting on the brakes and asking us to look, if only briefly, beyond our rear-views.
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men