Adam Berlin’s The Standing Eight points beyond boxing and goes to those between-round places where an eight count is both reprieve and curse.
The Standing Eight contains multitudes. This is a collection of poems that focuses on boxing—and so much more. Adam Berlin’s visceral world teems with street brawlers and clever counterpunchers, heavy drinkers and chess players, but especially fathers and sons. There are moving meditations on the loss of the poet’s father; equally moving is a study of three young sons rooting on their underdog father from ringside. You’d expect Mike Tyson to swagger through these poems, or the tragic Johnny Tapia; but Shakespeare is here too, and Eugene O’Neill, and Dylan Thomas, and Edward Hopper. Unflinchingly honest, relentlessly intelligent, The Standing Eight should be read by anyone who has ever thrown or taken a punch—and everybody else.
— Martín Espada
—Jessica Greenbaum, author of The Two Yvonnes: Poems, Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets, and Inventing Difficulty
—Michael Waters, co-editor of Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali; author, most recently, of Celestial Joyride