Winner of the 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize
Selected and with an Introduction by Gabrielle CalvocoressiTyree Daye’s River Hymns is made of timely tropes that let us in on the mystery and
folk wisdom of everyday life. These poems of longing and wonderment are woven
out of a lyricism that can only exist when clarity of observation and imagination
converge as one-of- a-kind songs within everyday things. River Hymns raises legend
and folklore into poetry. The speaker troubles Southern light and the underbelly of
black life, always returning to the heart to set things right. Hope and earthy desire
pulse in these lines, and this poet cinches it all together through his love of design in
honest language and daily miracles.
As we situate ourselves between bodies of water, as we digest them, as they worry our homes, our families, our memories. These are the concerns of Tyree Daye’s stunning debut, River Hymns. Attending this poet’s collection are the ache renderings of the beloved. The river consumes and emerges from the poems, and poet, in ways that both haunt and lull the imagination. More than just experiencing the North Carolina landscape he situates so squarely affixed to the Haw and Neuse, we undergo it. The insistence of imagery and referent in Daye’s work is at times unsettling, at other times, wholly a rush of solace.
—francine j. harris
River Hymns is a brilliant debut of black poetry in a tradition that goes from Jean Toomer and Langston Hughes to CS Giscombe, Forrest Hamer, and Sean Hill. Tyree Daye is a blues poet of the first order, giving voice to the people of the rural South...no...the families of the... Actually, Tyree Daye wants to make immortal all of the people of the past who made a way for his existence, and these poems bring them and the land they called home back to life. The vernacular here is one of a man speaking out loud to his own soul.