Winner of the 2019 Interim Test Site Poetry Series Prize
The beautifully crafted poems in Riddle Field explore two parallel themes, the impact of the impending destruction of a dam on a small town and the trauma of sexual abuse and eventual recovery from it. This work focuses on the environment, human and physical, in which the loss of nature and innocence is born and calls attention to the many ways we create both intimacy and distance when trauma is hidden or denied. Derek Thomas Dew’s language is harsh, honest, and sometimes heartbreaking. His poems capture the confusion and fatigue that must be navigated for a victim of abuse to piece himself back together and the internal strife that comes with carry-ing a traumatic secret that can no longer be ignored.
Rich with unforgettable images and the quiet strength of hard-won survival, Riddle Field tackles the complex process of achieving self-awareness and recovery in the wake of profound trauma.
"Riddle Field is replete with lines that fuse unlike dimensions, relentlessly juxtaposing realms and ideas that create a new kind of knowing. Here, collage and stream of consciousness reveal the interconnectedness inherent in all things. Each line: a deep noticing that can only be chanced upon, relentless and sublime."
—Sherwin Bitsui, author of Dissolve and Flood Song
"In Riddle Field we are made witness to a miracle of the new millennium: America rising out of its actual soil, covered in flowers and malice, music and weaponry, into a body wholly new. These poems propose a spaciousness in what Shakespeare once called "the wide gap of time". They refresh and reprimand us all at once.”
—Donald Revell, author of The English Boat and Drought-Adapted Vine