Steve Davenport is the author of Uncontainable Noise, which won the 2006 Transcontinental Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, Murder on Gasoline Lake (listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2007) and Nine Poems and Three Fictions (winner of The Literary Review’s Charles Angoff Award for best contribution). Visit Steve’s website:

Miles Davis and Josephine Baker (both from Steve Davenport’s East St. Louis) make brief appearances in Overpass but linger in the reader’s mind as figures for Davenport's new poems:  brilliantly improvisatory as well as stunningly energetic and daring.  Moreover, like the speaker in “True Confessions,” who is counting syllables for a poem while playing softball, we are led to believe that this may be one of those rare occasions in poetry where life and art are happening simultaneously, and I don't think it gets much better than that.  —B. H. Fairchild


Welcome to a dirty fistful of midwestern swan songs, rendered by a hand factoried out of the abandoned fields of America's heartland.  Steve Davenport has taken the slapdash lexicon of a mortally wounded industrial base and stitched, jammed, jumbled and creased together this searing collaboration of form and function. Take this 100 proof rotgut cure and pour its sound slow out your mouth into your shot glass memory.  But be careful…. Wander around in these scarecrow fields full of almost forgotten history, and you just might end up loving Davenport's territory like “a song / about trouble and people staying put / despite the spills that pool under their feet.”  —Tyehimba Jess


Steve Davenport’s Overpass takes us on an exuberant journey across the Illinois floodplain known as the Bottom, whose features include “factory cutbacks and closings, / refineries and strip clubs needing paint.”  Davenport’s muse and central figure is Overpass Girl, whose cancer becomes a kind of metaphor for this “dirt cursed with industry and blood.”  A sequence of curtal sonnets, with a few sassy sestinas and other forms mixed in, Overpass creates a startling and delightful tension between its richly gritty content, and a craft that crashes through its own formal restraints with deft use of wordplay, syntax, allusion, and joyful sound.  —Martha Collins