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Hammers and Hearts of the Gods

Hammers and Hearts of the Gods

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Fred Voss doesn't just write about factory life, he lives it. For the past 30 years he has worked as a machinist in various factories in California, transmuting his experiences into three books of poetry published by Bloodaxe: Goodstone, Carnegie Hall with Tin Walls, and now Hammers and Hearts of the Gods.

The backdrop of much of his work is the Goodstone Aircraft Company, an oily amalgam of all the places where he has sweated it out on the shopfloor, where each man has to be a virtuoso able to temper brute force with hair's-breadth delicacy. Voss's Goodstone is a bastion of male America where bragging men dominate and cheat each other, boasting of their sexual conquests while trying to come to terms with sexual failure. In this tense, abrasive, rowdy atmosphere, suppressed violence, male bravado and sexual harassment go hand in hand. And when the wounded male lashes out, Voss is there.

"Voss has driven up and down the California coast for 15 years, with a toolbox in his back seat, getting fired and hired by various machine shops. One result is a body of poetry whose directness of address to factory experience is without parallel."
John Osborne, BÍte Noire

"Most of the poems are vivid vignettes of factory life, but they are also much more. They comprise a wide-ranging social-political commentary that exposes class conflict, racial tension, and social injustice. The poems also deal knowingly with male woundedness, insecurity, alcoholism, grief and shameÖ In all the poems there is an earthy compassion that reflects a true spirituality."
Tom Fulton, Poetry Review

"Working class poetry at its most political, most lucid and imaginative best."
Morning Star