Scenes from a Rain Country
114 Pages / Poetry
June, 2022 (Preorder pricing through the end of June.)
William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award
Grand Prize Winner
Scenes from a Rain Country explores the experiences and interior lives of people, wildlife, and places in Louisiana, with occasional visits to other locations, like Cleveland, Chile, and distant nebulae. The familiar and fantastic intersect as these poems disclose and disorient the entanglements of hurricanes and horse shadows, astronauts and plant taxonomy, octopus hearts and the moon.
Praise for Scenes from a Rain Country
It’s so rare for me to leave the last page of a poetry collection completely challenged and energized like I’ve had a jolt of caffeine. Chad Foret’s debut collection, Scenes from a Rain Country, is exactly that kind of read. These poems whisk us across worlds, around the globe, from the ideal to the football field, and through myriads of philosophical stances and visions with limitless energy and depth. These lines pry and they sing. They clarify and confound in the best possible ways. Ghosts on the Danube, movie stars in the desert, touchdowns, fossils, floods, hog’s blood, and moons—it all shines in these poems. More than a gallery of the absurd and eclectic, though, Scenes from a Rain Country is a tour of connections and of the sublime. I cannot imagine spending time with these poems and not feeling better for having read them.
—Jack B. Bedell, Poet Laureate, State of Louisiana, 2017-2019, and author of Color All Maps New.
These poems should be read… when you’re “not sure how / gore & love go on,” when “A lifetime of brushes / falls from your hair,” when you need a warning: “What a dangerous / place to daydream, a plaza.” Days after reading these poems I am caught in their “heat mirage,” in “Bogalusa’s shoulder-blades.” Help me.
—Angela Ball, author of Night Clerk at the Hotel of Both Worlds and Talking Pillow
Scenes from a Rain Country, Chad Foret’s first book of poetry, is a rich, multi-formed collection that meditates on life, death, and everything in between. On one level, Foret’s world is down-to-earth, full of movie houses, family, crawfish boils, small Louisiana towns, fish guts, favorite beagles, and hurricanes. But it is also hallucinatory, haunted first by flowers and hummingbirds, then by angels, ghosts, dreams and nightmares that lead readers from the real world deep into an unconscious realm guarded mostly by poets and other artists. Foret’s language is thick, sometimes intentionally innovative and puzzling, with lines that stop readers cold, then burst like nebula into blazing epiphanies. “How lucky they were to live,” the culminating line of one poem reads, and that might summarize the underlying feeling for readers of this collection, which never blinks at the world and as a result makes everything—whether dark or light—come alive in words for an instant.
—Dr. Richard Louth, Director of Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project
Chad Foret’s debut bewitches. […] It loves you & will never leave. Like hunger, you’ll return—you must—ask for more, & it gives. Foret’s poetry is reason enough to live.
—Matthew Schmidt, Co-founder of 1-Week Critique
I am confident writers of the 22nd century will regard Chad Foret’s Scenes from a Rain Country as the text where surrealism and intimacy swam a mutual reservoir. For every moment in which “I’d want you to place / an unpeeled orange in my mouth so I might / / one night be mistaken for a small fire,” the poet blasts to a Van Allen belt of “monochrome peppermint” and “velvet time.” And when Lingua Firma is reached, what travel companion is more suitable than “a cosmic swan?” Whether Pontchartrain or the Tarantula Nebula, location is Foret’s clay, his sculpting so cerebrum-fueled that like “Alligator Squash’s” Cajun grandson, “You better ask for more.”
—Jon Riccio, author of Eye, Romanov and Prodigal Cocktail Umbrella
Scenes from a Rain Country transports the reader from rural Louisiana pastorals to the outermost tendrils of the Tarantula Nebula. Each of Foret’s finely crafted poems crackles with incantatory power and an unrivaled attention to detail. Deer roam about, mouths stuffed with “diamond jelly,” while “lions are lost / in a lunch of someone else’s lungs” and dragonflies pause “to sip gasoline.” Foret’s poetic garden is dark, fecund, and teeming with violence, yet above these worldly concerns there’s a recurring call for love and clemency.
—Nickalus Rupert, author of Bosses of Light and Sound
The poems in Scenes from a Rain Country exist nearby the surreal and the psychedelic, but they are neither. What they are is the unique voice of an emerging poet’s mind wandering and exploring and hoping someone will “Tell me I’m a miracle.” Chad Foret’s debut collection of poems is marvellous and one that may set you “free by default.”
—Tom Holmes, editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics and winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award.
You’ll want to savor every line. The sounds and images in these poems are electric. These poems are why I read poetry. Foret explores language and form with jubilation, momentum, and grace.
—Olivia Clare Friedman, author of The 26-Hour Day, Disasters in the First World, and Here Lies
Chad Foret’s Scenes from a Rain Country blurs time and place into a surreal world I can’t quite shake even after I put the book down. Like “envelopes from the afterlife,” his poems capture the past and illuminate a stark and sudden present, a place where love and death are one in the same. Somehow these remarkable poems unfold like living things. They grow wild like the weeds.
—Adam Clay, author of To Make Room for the Sea, Stranger, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, and The Wash
Chad Foret’s Scenes from a Rain Country rollicks and roils Southeast Louisiana to life with “watersong,” psychedelic poems of place that conjure and name real rivers and swamps and creatures alongside of turquoise dogs and pink horses in a place where “Cajun women never die,” and “Circus animals struggle to learn string instruments.” The ending of the opening poem, “The Shrine Rises,” sets the tone for the book: “I split / the prayers of swimmerets, wipe flavor / from my face. The heart I eat entirely.” Such voraciousness infuses this surprising and imaginative debut.
—Rebecca Morgan Frank, author of Oh You Robot Saints!, Little Murders Everywhere, and The Spokes of Venus
Chad Foret wrests the magic from the ordinary, stretching grammar to a breaking point as its capacity to contain meaning is challenged. The weight of the surreal imagery threatens to crack the syntax. Foret spins inward, creating worlds within the worlds of rural Louisiana. He writes, “[M]y mother whispered spells / into the Cajun trinity, bell- / peppers, celery, & onions. / She wasn’t a shapeshifter, / but maybe, when I wasn’t / looking, she was sister to / some transplant priestess / with shellfish in her hair.” Foret grabs the tail of her spell and with its power, he invokes a wild language, a poetry that lovingly holds his ancestors, the places where he grew up, and his readers. He asks, “What fossil isn’t happy to be held?”
—Brandi George, author of Faun and Gog
What Richard Hugo is to the Pacific Northwest, Chad Foret is to Southeast Louisiana. The poems in Scenes from a Rain Country speak with the voice of one who knows a place as intimately as the back of their own proverbial hand—and as if they are seeing this place for the first time. The landscape of Foret’s imagination is enviably vast, and the triggering towns of this collection defamiliarize home until it “is wherever feelings / are foggiest & the buildings look like they / were beaten with another building.” Every line in this collection is an unpredictable delight that promises nothing but to unsettle the reader with its intricate syntax and a world of meaning suspended in every break. To discover these poems is to feel as though one has “just happened onto something holy,” baptized by water in each of its possible forms.
—Hannah Dow, author of Rosarium
Chad Foret’s debut collection, Scenes from a Rain Country, guts me. This “swamp pastoral”—part love poem, part elegy, part ecopoetic cri de coeur—honors Gertrude Stein’s definition of poetry as “loving the name of anything.” Grand Isle and New Orleans, Bayou des Allemands and Black Creek, cypress trees and cattails, catfish and roseate spoonbills, alligator squash and mirliton, deer and heron, Cajun elders Nilda and Ki, beloved Audrey, and Hurricanes Ida and Katrina—yes, even “Katrina’s dark crust on the glass”— populate the book. Yet Foret troubles vivid local context with nervy juxtapositions that put me in mind of American surrealist Bill Knott. Foret’s surrealist bent contributes to a recovery of spirituality through encounters with nature, or as he writes, “many times I’ve walked / through woods & just happened onto something holy.” Let us follow the wild and generous poet into his holy woods.
—Carolyn Hembree, author of Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague