I read “Jesus in the Trailer,” Andrew Clark’s first collection of poetry, sitting in a square while drinking a rum and coke. Actually, I read it a few times. First, without stopping. Then more slowly, taking time to sit with each poem. It’s a collection, I’ve decided, meant to be read outside.

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"Jesus in the Trailer” is an intimate and sobering look at the South, at faith, at youth and aging. Clark’s poems are as tangible as red clay, with an appreciation for the rustic, and a reverence for time. In this one collection, Clark grows up, falls in and out of love, listens to Prince, and faces religion head on.

Poems like “Sun Swelter Mississippi” and “Two Squares” reminded me of Southern heat and histories buried by time. “Things your father did” tackles masculinity and fatherhood, while “Motherly Advice” explores the changing roles of a mother/son relationship. Local Savannahians will especially appreciate “Rebel Mama,” a poem dedicated to the late Niema Ross, Do Savannah freelance contributor who passed away unexpectedly last October.

What struck me most about this collection was the precise language, the teeth of Clark’s poems that always manage to find the truth. There are no wasted words in “Jesus in the Trailer;” each line punches back against expectations of men in the South. From start to finish, this is a truly captivating collection, and Clark’s rugged and thoughtful poems will stick with readers long after the book is closed.

Andrew Clark is a writer, photographer and Southerner from Alexander, North Carolina. Clark is the recipient of the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award from Georgia Southern University. His short story "Tangled Limbs" was a finalist in the 2018 Scribes Valley Short Story Contest and appears in their 2019 anthology. His poetry has appeared in a number of journals, including Number One Journal, Good Juju, The Literary Nest, and These Fragile Lilacs.