Broken Cage, by Joseph P Wood

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In reviving the triolet form, Joseph P Wood pushes his investigative poetic techniques to brilliant if uncomfortable places. These are visceral works—daring, luminous—that in the act of recycling words and phrases discover in each new musical construct divergent realities operating a hair’s breadth from each other, and often in contention. This is a book that finds no difficulty in praising what undoes us, nor shies from sacrificing decorum for distinction—we even find salvation in the body-hopping spirit of a dead man. Here is a voice laid bare, and a poet at the height of his powers.

Broken Cage
by Joseph P Wood

Pub Date: August 1, 2014
78 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-936767-29-8

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These poems are so beautiful it makes you want to rip your face off. The pressure of them is profanely intense; like just reading them might make me sweat. They feel like they’re going to explode in my hands.

Nick Demske

Joseph P Wood’s Broken Cage is a formal and sonic work of virtuosity. Playful and earnest, the poems in this collection tell the story of loss and its spectacle. Wood invents a gilded world of courtly love, lifeboats, and “hives of misfiring” that’s arresting and vigorous. 

Carmen Giménez Smith

[Wood’s] poems attempt to make sense of the mind’s “eternal repetition / of blankness.” Wood asserts that “autobiography pages / a pointless asking,” but none of the questions that emerge here are futile. These poems arrive with the shrapnel of epiphany only the mind can create.

Adam Clay

Review at Publishers Weekly

“Wood, with a gentle dexterity, crafts a swirling atmosphere out of kaleidoscopic phrases and images to create “an unfurling helix” effect….These vivacious, inventive, and exploratory poems are vast in scope and quick to point out that “we are citizens of a small era, humbled lilies lilting along the hillside.”

Review by Anaïs Duplan at PANK Magazine

These are expressions of what it is to feel defunct, incapable, and anxious. . . . Broken Cage, perhaps against its will, holds a mirror up to [its] world, holds a mirror up to itself. . . . It’s an exhilarating, if baffling, world.”

Review by Amish Trivedi at Sink Review

“. . . [T]here is no normalcy anymore. There is no everyday poem or poem for a quiet moment. No, the poems of Broken Cage are the long, jostling train ride we’ve always imagined taking through a part of the world we have always wanted to visit.


Joseph P Wood is the author of four books and five chapbooks of poetry, which include YOU. (Etruscan Press) and Fold of the Map (Salmon). His work has appeared in venues such as Arts & Letters Daily, BOMB, Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse, among others. Wood has held residencies at Djerassi and Artcroft, and is currently managing editor for Noemi Press. He lives in Birmingham, AL.

“Broken Cage”

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