There's a lunatic logic at work in these poems, from the opening section of thirteen facts to the final pages inspired by Christopher Smart, the 18th-century poet locked away in an asylum with his cat. Here, astrophysics becomes an empathy lesson, spelling lessons give way to magic, and the best healing witch in Louisiana shares the stage with orcas and a hermit crab. Add to that a math exam that doesn't add up, and if/then conditionals that add up strangely; plus, the worst fire in Spokane, Washington, and the origin story of owls. Facts and Figures is saner than a calendar. Calendars have twelve months, but the year—like this book—has thirteen moons.
Reading a Rob Carney poem is remembering what it means to feel wonder. While grounded in the dailiness of buses and combine harvesters, whiskey and football fields, Facts and Figures makes us turn our gaze to the miracles of nature. Human invention and wilderness are never wholly separate, and we forget about ecological fragility at our own peril. This remarkable collection recognizes our dual capacity for creation and destruction. It is a tender meditation that at times feels as much like prophecy as poetry. A much-needed reflection on our past, present, and possible futures.
—Erica Wright, poetry editor at Guernica
Once again, Rob Carney re-authors the cosmos. With his distinct voice and humor, Carney invites us to ditch the "shared silo" of our lives, side-eye scientific certainty, and consider "every cloud rolling by, the shape of possibilities." Here, facts are portals into stories, figures confront our insatiabilities and ignorances, and, as it says in the opening poem, "all of this is true." When the world becomes wearying, Carney flips the atlas page and offers the restorative back road.
—Sarah Aronson, host of The Write Question podcast on PRX and Montana Public Radio
Holy hell. I don't know the last time I've read a book of poetry with more verve, grit, and wisdom. Wildly imaginative, alive to ecology, injustice, and myth, Facts and Figures takes apart our sad, weird world and reassembles it so that we might see its glory and its going away all the more clearly, so that we might celebrate and grieve, so that we might know it, and truly, for the first time. Rob Carney has written a stunning book; I can't recommend it highly enough.
—Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die and When We Were Birds