The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands Poems

Nick Flynn

Graywolf Press




104 Pages



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The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands begins as a meditation on love and the body but soon breaks down into a collage of voices culled from media reports, childhood memories, testimonies from Abu Ghraib detainees, passages from documentary films, overheard conversations, and scraps of poems and song, only to reassemble with a gathering sonic force. It's as if all the noise that fills our days were a storm, yet at the center is a quiet place, but to get there you must first pass through the storm, with eyes wide open, singing. Each poem becomes a hallucinatory, shifting experience, through jump cut, lyric persuasion, and deadpan utterance. This is an emotional, resilient response to some of the essential issues of our day by Nick Flynn, one of America's riskiest and most innovative writers.


Praise for The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands

"An unflinching attempt to use poetry to grapple with some of the most shameful monsters of this new century—the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib and the terrible cost war enacts on everyone caught up in it, both civilians and soldiers." —The Rumpus
"Flynn's poems unnerve and devastate; theirs is a terrible beauty, indeed." —Cleveland Plain Dealer

"[Flynn] sets for himself the task of discovering poetry appropriate to our time, an era of sanctioned torture and protracted wars . . . With The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, Flynn faces some of the difficult questions and confusions of our time, and he challenges poetry to face itself, as well." —The Houston Chronicle

"Each word is a lit match, a thrown stone, a howling blast, a choking torrent. Flynn has forged daringly intimate and clarion poems of conscience." —Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Nick Flynn

  • Nick Flynn is the author of three poetry collections, including Some Ether, and three memoirs, including Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, adapted to the screen as Being Flynn. He teaches at the University of Houston, and divides his time between Houston and New York.