WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“Harsh, funny, dark, and tender. Redneck Poems will kick you into next week.” –Adrian C. Louis
“These poems are very sensual, grounded in nature and setting that form the background for the human interactions: violent, sad, jealous over lovers, the death of a newborn, the pure animal joy of being alive. Will read again and again. A real pleasure.”–David Woodruff
“This is just great. I especially loved ‘Ode To ____’. A bunch of tight little tales that are just as likely to tug your heart-strings as to make you hurl. Bad and sad and stunningly evocative of a time and place. I wish this guy would write a novel. Failing that, just more stuff like this.”–Mark Staniforth
“The main complaint I have on Rusty’s books are, they’re too dang short. I said this about Breaking it Down, I’m saying it again about Redneck Poems. Mr. Barnes writes folks well, has a spooky ability to get into the skin of any character, man, woman, child, and write them with vivid realism. Be warned, these are not always happy people, but the grit and resolve in which they plow through life in these poems is so inspiring you don’t care whether or not they’re happy. In fact, you kinda hope they keep on falling on hard times, again and again, so Rusty will keep writing about them.
Rusty Barnes is the kind of writer I hope to be some day. I would read soup labels if he wrote them.”–Helen Peterson
“With a voice so original in every poem, from beginning to end (“Tony little girls in slim skirts/never really appealed; give/me bluesgals with high-stockings and lovely round thighs/at two ayem in a stripmall/parking lot…Yeah, boy”), Rusty Barnes’ “Redneck Poems” is one of those poetry books I can read all the way through, over and over again.”–Melissa McEwen
“Fighting for love in Appalachia. Tuneful, visceral, gritty.”–Lydia Ship
“The term “redneck” has many different meanings. There is the humorous Jeff Foxworthy parody, but there is also the hard-working rural farmer and fresh air image that is tied a little closer to reality. I’m not sure why Rusty chose that word to represent this collection of poems, but I feel he almost uses it affectionately. Sure there is mention of cut-off jeans, halter tops, beer, shotguns, fights, and of course cows, but in each of these poems there is also something that is universally relevant. Be it young love (or lust), a father’s fears, neglect, or lose, the poems are power, moving and real.”–What To Wear During an Orange Alert
“This book is different, and you’ll begin to notice the first time you hold it in your hands. It’s a small book, a simple book, uniquely sized, well printed, and unassuming. You’d never guess, gazing upon the cheerful monarch butterflies gracing the cover and many of the pages, that this is a treasure full of personal depths, mountain landscapes, and trapped moments. Rusty Barnes manages to surprise even us, and we were already fans.
Much like his short story collection, “Breaking it Down” (sunnyoutside 2007), “Redneck Poems” offers distinct Appalachian themes, as well as pain, sex, a smattering of social commentary, and even some big grins. Rusty does a beautifully lyrical job of painting places and people with crisp realism and resonant images.” The Legendary.