SIU Department Name | Page Title

siu logo siupress logo

SIU logo


Main Content Area

Twenty First Century Blues

Twenty First Century Blues

Add to Cart

Richard Cecil


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
112 pages, 6 x 9

Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


Additional Materials

About the Book

Death, fame, art, and religion become comic subjects in Twenty First Century Blues, the fourth collection from Richard Cecil.Whether elegizing his predecessors, predicting his own end, channeling Dickinson’s “corpse-eye-view of stony death,” or imagining Yeats living in Indiana and dealing with English department politics, Cecil tempers his morbidity with a straightforward, tender brand of humor and a refreshing honesty about the shelf life of contemporary poetry. Deadpan and dark, yet pulsing with the spirit of life, these poems speak of historic France, Italy, and Switzerland, where religious persecutions, ancient catastrophes, and other, less personal, failures overshadow the disappointments and shortcomings of the poet’s modern life in the Midwest. Grimly cheered by these revelations, Cecil shows that poets, like cicadas screaming in the summer air, “won’t shut up until we’re skeletons.”


Richard Cecil teaches in the Department of English and the Honors College of Indiana University, as well as in the Spalding University Brief-Residency MFA Program. A winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry, he is the author of three previous books of poetry, Einstein’s Brain, Alcatraz, and In Search of the Great Dead.His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, New England Review, and many other journals.


Twenty First Century Blues speaks to all of us whose lives fall short of the triumphs we had planned. Yet the jaundice in Richard Cecil’s eye is offset by clear vision. This book tells bitter truths, redeemed by memory, by wit, by craft, by accurate and resonant details. These poems say ‘I came, I saw, I did not conquer, exactly, but I understood, I laughed, I celebrated by writing this down.’”

—Charles Harper Webb