“In a middle of our mad world, what can a poet say in defense of lyric arts? ‘My only defense / is the leap of that spotted deer’ says CJ Evans, and gets it just right. Here is the poet who hears crows ‘in electrical sockets and in airplanes / and in the arteries in my arms’, a poet who insists of speaking of rain which ‘falls as if all these woods / weren’t owned.’ Here, also, is a poet who can write with incredible power about school shootings, and suicide, yes, a poet who knows that every orchard is a forest we broke, and yet also stands up to the abyss that surrounds us, and produces an abundance of his hymn to life. That takes a lot. That takes a skill and the will power for life. But there is more: there is a metaphysician who asks ‘why do we even bother to be in our bodies if / we just aim to break them,’ who asks ‘how do I keep cutting these flowers / when they cover so many crowded graves.’ This is wisdom, friends. And I, for one, am grateful. Grateful, too, for beauty that is always found in these pages. And for the reminder to pay attention to ‘lines as they /break at the edges of a mouth,’ and to the moments that make the lyric of our lives.”
―Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

Lives by CJ Evans annihilates the border between private and public, allowing either to seep into and become the other: ‘In/ coming inside into/ our secret room of hands.’ In languid lyrics lush as a crowd of firs, Evans finds in relentless detail a life bursting with freedom despite violence and captivity abounding. These poems revise the very act of love―on nature, children, and community―until even the way we live is forever changed. A fantastic collection.”
―Phillip B. Williams, author of Mutiny and Thief in the Interior

“CJ Evans’s beautiful book, Lives, explores and circles around, into and out of what it means to be free and alive in a world where humans insist on war and environmental destruction. . . . The book is intimate, expansive, and in moments, willfully hopeful. As Evans writes: ‘here is a price I’ve exacted/to live, a shadow in which nothing else could grow, /but since I’m here I’d love.’”
―Victoria Chang, winner of the PEN Voelcker Award for OBIT

“In Lives, CJ Evans acutely tunes into the signals emitted from finite and infinite worlds near and far―amidst perpetual violence, wars, and ecocide. The collected signals make up a stunning language that intricately weaves the personal and the political. Lives offers us a deeply intimate and prophetic observation of the now.”
―Don Mee Choi, winner of the National Book Award for DMZ Colony