Traveling at High Speeds
2nd Expanded Edition
Foreword by Rick Bass
The kinetic energy of John Rybicki’s poems is his unmistakable signature. His poem “Traveling at High Speeds” opens with the lines, “Some night my body takes the shape of this city.” That urban shape is the shape of John Rybicki’s poetry as well. The city in question is, of course, Detroit, but whether Detroit itself is the subject—as it is in many of his poems—or not, the cadence of its streets informs the slashing attack of Rybicki’s vivid language.
“John Rybicki is the kind of poet whose individual poems seem like autobiographical fragments still hurtling apart from some personal Big Bang. His roots are working-class and he’s worked with juvenile delinquents, emotionally impaired children, mentally impaired adults; he’s worked on farms, run a historic grist mill, and tutored in prison. These experiences collide like charged particles in his poems, and yet one senses behind the bursts of fragmentation a unity of perception and deeply considered emotion.“
“John Rybicki ignites the page. His vital, urgent poems celebrate pleasures some would call—mistakenly—small. Or, as in ‘Asthma,’ brilliant metaphor underscores the visceral fear of being trapped in one’s own body. I have copied out lines from his poems and kept them on my desk for years; I needed them that close by.”
“John Rybicki has a hurricane-heart, a hammer-heart, that is just waiting to be unleashed upon this perhaps-undeserving world.”
“Rybicki is so personally intense that, once, while he was out jogging, he figured out how to finish a poem and was so jazzed that he scratched the poem on the road asphalt with a stone! Buy this book by a frequent contributor to the NAR now that this seven-year-old poetry collection is getting new life—a tribute to Rybicki’s fire and breath.”
—Vince Gotera, North American Review
John Rybicki was born and raised in Detroit. He has since lived and worked on farms in southwestern Michigan near the small towns of Vicksburg, Grand Junction, and Richland. His poems have appeared in The Quarterly, Poetry East, New York Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly, and Caliban. He is the author of Traveling at High Speedsand a chapbook, Yellow-Haired Girl with Spider. His second book of poems, We Bed Down into Water, was published by Northwestern/Triquarterly in 2008.