The Scarecrow Alibis

THE SCARECROW ALIBIS by Denver Butson

Published by Cloudbank Books. Winner of the 2022 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize.

THE SCARECROW ALIBIS – “A Psalm for the Dispossessed”

When “the scarecrow” first came to him in 2011, Denver Butson  was in a new, unfamiliar writing space—the roof of his walk-up apartment building in Brooklyn. Temporarily escaping a tiny apartment with a child waking, the poet would take his notebook, pens, and coffee to the roof before the day would erupt. The scarecrow took shape then (sometimes coincidentally with then-unknown, future superhero Chadwick Boseman, who was dating a neighbor in the building, working out on the other side of that same roof). Eleven years and hundreds of poems later, the first collection of these scarecrow poems is here.

Throughout The Scarecrow Alibis, the first poem Butson wrote on that roof unfolds – the scarecrow dreams of climbing off his stake, unearthing the farmer’s old motorcycle, and riding it across the fields  he has stood watch over his whole “life.”  Though stuffed with straw, the scarecrow seems to be more than a figment of the poet’s imagination. He longs for something –  an “elsewhere” he has only heard about. And always, that cobwebbed motorcycle beckons, tempting the scarecrow to ride away, to leave  his longing to one day touch or be touched by the farmer’s wife there at the farm. This incomplete, unreliable chronicle of the scarecrow’s inability to act becomes, according to poet Doug Ramspeck, “a psalm for the dispossessed. “

The Scarecrow Alibis reads like a love letter to the blundering, persistently tender self.” 

Zoë Ryder White

“What a terrific imagination! What verve! . . . Indeed. I love this  work.”

Ilya Kaminsky

These are wonderful poems — sharp, transgressive, funny, alluring and extraordinarily powerful.  They knock our comfortable balance all to hell, and then they help stitch our imaginations back together again.”           

Colum McCann

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About the author

Denver Butson (winner of the 2022 Vern Ratsula Poetry Prize and the 2020 William Matthews Prize) has four previous poetry collections and two books with visual artists. Featured on National Public Radio, in the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180  curated by Billy Collins, and in dozens of journals and anthologies, Butson lives in Brooklyn and frequently collaborates with musicians and visual and performing artists