Jim Peterson was born in Augusta, Georgia, reared and educated on the banks of the Savannah River in western South Carolina. His poetry collections include The Man Who Grew Silent, An Afternoon With K, The Owning Stone, The Bob and Weave, and Original Face. His novel, Paper Crown, is now available on Audible. His poems have won the Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press, an Academy of American Poets Award, and a Fellowship in Poetry from the Virginia Arts Commission. A number of his plays have been produced in regional theaters. Until his retirement in 2013, he was Coordinator of Creative Writing at Randolph College and was the Pearl S. Buck Writer-in-Residence there in the Fall of 2017. Many years ago, he was founder and editor of the poetry journal Kudzu and later was editor of The Devil’s Millhopper poetry magazine and press. He is now on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Omaha Low-Res MFA Program in Creative Writing and is professor emeritus at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lives with his charismatic corgi, Mama Kilya.
Speech Minus Applause presents a vast soulscape of loss and longing. The speaker of these powerful poems may not be the poet Jim Peterson; the voice may belong to his solitary Other who has resolved to accept sorrow as a condition of genuine existence. The resolve these lines express is as admirable as the straightforward language that embodies it. In “Whirlwind” the force of loss is revealed in a yearning glimpse: “a whirlwind of leaves / taking the form of your body / for just a moment.” . . . And then the world returns as a gentler loneliness. And then these true poems are possible.
—Fred Chappell, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina
In the neighborhood of Jim Peterson’s Speech Minus Applause, the dog bowl refills itself. There is nothing and everything to do. Thought is the only sound, and strangers, friends, animals and loved ones, old and new, come and go like fragments of light outside the window, travel down tributaries fed by a city, a street, a door, a mouth—a home becomes a body and the body a refuge for introspection and reverie, a leafy whirlwind of memory. In these wise and darkly animated poems, the wrinkled lines between dream and dreamer are called into question, and a curious and grief-struck eye turns to watch itself wander, from room to room, through its own joy and sadness—the voices in Peterson’s newest collection can only, despite their loudest and wildest attempts, speak to themselves, and through that silence, they speak to everyone.
—Grant Kittrell, author of Let’s Sit Down, Figure This Out
With his love of the uncanny, his keen observations, and his terrific wit, Jim Peterson has delivered up an arresting collection in Speech Minus Applause. Yes, it's a dark book, but it's riddled through with wonder so that it never becomes too heavy to carry. Filled with language astonishing and astonished, these are poems brimming with things almost said, things caught in the throat, but Peterson's voice is resonant, unfaltering, and true.
—Jennifer Whitaker, author of The Blue Hour