The Teller's Cage - Poems and Imaginary Movies

The Teller's Cage

— Poems and Imaginary Movies by John Philip Drury

Now Available for Pre-Order from Able Muse Press

Full-length collection of original poetry from John Philip Drury, now available for pre-order from Able Muse Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Foyles, and other online
and offline bookstores worldwide.



    The Teller's Cage
    Poems and Imaginary Movies by John Philip Drury

    Paperback ~ $21.95

    128 pages
    ISBN 978-1-77349-139-4

Through their cinematic storytelling, the poems in John Philip Drury’s The Teller’s Cage swell the heart and the imagination. The book opens with baseball and culminates with persona poems starring the poet's mother, along the way unraveling factual and fantastical chronicles in enchanting locales. Drury’s formal prowess is on display throughout this versified blockbuster.


John Philip Drury’s The Teller’s Cage is generous in its sharing and wise in its knowing. In a richly textured tableau in the vein of the late Richard Howard’s work, the speaker first reflects upon his younger life only to then, astonishingly, assume the perspective of his mother in a series of masterful persona poems. But most of all, one appreciates the ingeniously formal thrills of these very personal and alive poems. Drury’s latest collection presents a uniquely visceral dream of recollection, into which you, dear reader, have been offered the gift of entrance.
—Cate Marvin, author of Event Horizon

“We’re still chameleons who can’t help changing,” writes John Philip Drury in this new collection that rings the changes on American speech and classical verse forms. Park, Echo, dark, deco: Drury masters the mysteries of rhyme with vernacular charm, both hard rhyme and—legion, moody, curmudgeon, embody—slant. He is also adept at incorporating history into his poems, and whether it’s history that’s close to home, like Harriet Tubman and Pickett’s Charge, or further afield, like Frederick the Great, it all fits naturally, thanks to his flexible style and broad-minded curiosity. Yet we sense the presiding spirit of the collection in his tender, deeply lived and felt poems of love and friendship. Drury’s formal restlessness, his skill at poetic shapeshifting, offers us a “lexicon of things that morph,” moving, in the final poem of each section, from poetry to cinematography as he scripts imaginary films for the theater of the mind.
—Amit Majmudar, author of Twin A

“Imaginary movies,” as John Philip Drury calls the poems in his new book, The Teller’s Cage, just might be the best movies, at least in the hands of such a formally virtuosic auteur. With historical reach that takes in the brutality of seventeenth-century colonialism, the poet’s mother’s closeted love in the mid-twentieth century, and the devastating consequences of history in contemporary Venice, and with characters from a renaissance composer to John Waters, Drury’s poems explore the imagination as our most essential way of facing facts. They defeat the easiness of nostalgia by insisting on the complexity of circumstances, as if the baroque and the realistic were quite happily sharing a beer after work.
—Jordan Smith, author of Little Black Train


John Philip Drury is the author of four previous books of poetry: The Disappearing Town, Burning the Aspern Papers, The Refugee Camp, and Sea Level Rising—from Able Muse Press. He has also written Creating Poetry and The Poetry Dictionary, both from Writer’s Digest Books. His awards include an Ingram Merrill Foundation fellowship, two Ohio Arts Council grants, and the Bernard F. Conners Prize from the Paris Review. He was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and grew up in Bethesda. He earned degrees from Stony Brook University, the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. After teaching at the University of Cincinnati for thirty-seven years, he is now an emeritus professor and lives with his wife, fellow poet LaWanda Walters, in a hundred-year-old house on the edge of a wooded ravine.