Not often does a book of poetry begin with Rilke and end with motorcycles. In The Next Best Thing Linda Back McKay writes with wit, imagination, and deep feeling, with vowels that soothe and consonants that nail sounds to the page. Here, among much else, readers will find birds and artists, grandchildren, a typing horse, and a woman feeding pigeons in the park.
– Patricia Kirkpatrick, author of Century’s Road and poetry editor of Water~Stone Review
‘Everything has its cost’ Linda Back McKay writes. One of the most inviting qualities of this book is the way McKay reminds us again and again of why we are drawn to this world, its idiosyncratic pleasures and deep loves, at the same time writing with a clarity (sometimes devastating, sometimes forgiving, sometimes slyly funny) of the cost of opening ourselves to the world. This is an inventive book, a formally surprising book, but most of all a wise book. It’s a wisdom without clichés or heavy handedness. Therefore, for the reader it comes not as a sermon, but as a gift, casual yet enduring.
– Jim Moore, author of Invisible Strings
Time, mortality, grief and hope – these are the bells that ring through Linda Back McKay’s fine new collection. Her poems embrace a wide range of subjects and styles with imagination, honesty and generosity. In one of my favorites, “The Art of Grieving,” she writes, “Take yourself on a little journey to someplace small because big is impossible right now.” For readers who have wanted to connect with a new book of poems, The Next Best Thing fulfills that wish from beginning to end.
– Joyce Sutphen, Poet Laureate of Minnesota and author of First Words and Naming the Stars