Thieve is a pointed, political book, though the politics here are local, particular, physically felt. The central sequence of poems–ubtitled “Poem against the Crumbling of the Republic”–as written in direct response to the poet’s own transition from rural poverty to coastal liberal comfort, as well as the presidential election of 2016, which brought to the national consciousness grave division in American society between urban and rural people. Thieve is a poetic attempt, as someone who knows/has known both worlds, to speak across that chasm. Thieve also interrogates chasms and barriers between the human and the natural, the present and the past, the parent and the child, between what we earn and what by grace is given.
“The most striking component of [Wilkins’s work] is its awareness of ‘the whole world.’ What is ordinary becomes transcendent. In places derelict and seemingly unexceptional, Wilkins compels us to recognize what is worth salvage, worth praise.”–Indiana Review
“No matter where Wilkins’ travels find him, his approach to the world is the same. He’s perceptive, reverent, big-hearted, but also angry, sad, lost and grieving. […] In certain poems we find a bird’s-eye view, soaring, untrammeled, light as air. And in others we are undeniably earthbound, with grit in our teeth and eyes, our knuckles and knees bloody and stinging.”–Missoula Independent
“If you want to read what matters, read Joe Wilkins.”–Tupelo Quarterly
“Joe Wilkins’s award-winning poetry collection Thieve is a map across American landscapes and relationships that have become distant, unfamiliar. These poems show us how to embrace our neighbors and old friends and find grace and mercy in a world that cuts us in two.”–Terrain.org