The Executive Director of the Fallen World

Liam Rector

The Executive Director of the Fallen World

Liam Rector

96 pages | 6-1/8 x 8-1/5 | © 2006
Cloth $22.50 ISBN: 9780226706047 Published October 2006

The Worry of the Far Right

The Reverend Donald Wildmon, executive director

Of the American Family Association in Tupelo,

Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley, he who

Unleashed the libido of a generation, announced today

That he, the Reverend, wanted again an America

In which he could drive his convertible into town,

Park it, leave his keys in the ignition,

And worry only that it might rain,

Rather than worry about Liam Rector.

 America—you are on notice. Liam Rector has little patience for “sincere” poetry, spin-doctored politicos, or moral hot air of any kind. The titles of these poems could easily serve as their own warning labels: those with clinical depression or easily triggered violent tendencies should use with caution. 

The Executive Director of the Fallen World is fearless and forthright, just the sort of blunt reality check that is missing from so much of contemporary, over-stylized poetry. Rector’s stoicism and slightly murderous sense of humor pervade these poems as he doffs his hat to humility and audacity, taking on America, money, movement, marriages, and general cultural mayhem. The characters and voices in Rector’s poems are, by tragic turns, unflinching, clearly and cleanly bitter, sarcastically East Coast, and lyrical.  Writing in tercets throughout, the poet breathes new life into this classic form with skill that might just send some unsuspecting readers over the edge. 

As the former executive director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and a spirited First Amendment advocate who has sparred on screen with Bill O’Reilly, Liam Rector knows whereof he speaks in The Executive Director of the Fallen World.


Acknowledgments, xi

In My Memory Eddie


Back to Country with Pulitzer

Song Years  

In Memoriam: (Harriet)

Sarcastic Caustic Ironic Satiric Sardonic Funny: Wounding Poetry


When the Parents Went

Mental Mommy

The One at the Oars

Family Plot

Your Tales of the Suburbs

Handmade Shoes

The Worry of the Far Right

Who’s in Charge of the Culture Now?

One for the Guys and for Robert DeNiro

Corner Man

Jack Warden


Third Star with Guggenheim

Woman in the Summer Southern Night

Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits



San Francisco 1970, Years After the Summer of Love

Best Friend


The Old Man and the Motorcycle

About the Money

Ronald Beaver’s Life in England

I Get a Feeling

Off to the Country of Cancer

This Summer

First Marriage

Beautiful, Sane Women

Ever Upon the Gad

Our Last Period Together

The Cruel Numbers of Love

So We’ll Go No More

Cold and Soon


Soon the City

Review Quotes
Publishers Weekly
"[Rector’s] third book in 20 years is mature and confident almost to the point of swaggering. In sometimes prose-like, sometimes musical tercets, Rector spits bile at a culture in decline . . . . There are a number of standouts, especially ’Now,’ in which an entire life is cynically, but movingly, compressed into just over four pages: ’... a few years/ To play around while being/ Bossed around.’ The reward is hard-nosed humility and gratitude after surviving failed marriages and nearly terminal cancer, which ’gave this to me: being/ Able to sit, comfortably.’"
Robert Pinsky | Washington Post
"Liam Rector’s new book, The Executive Director of the Fallen World , expresses a stringent yet generous tone toward the profane, ignoble world of his title. Without necessarily forgiving himself or the rest of greedy and needy humanity, Rector chooses instead a dry, somewhat charitable acknowledgment that the world is . . . worldly."
Ned Balbo | Antioch Review
"Defiant to the last, mordantly funny, humane, and loving."
Robert Schnall | Boston Review

"Poet, educator, and founding director of Bennington College’s Graduate Writing Seminars, Liam Rector died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound last August. In recent years, Rector had been successfully treated for colon cancer and heart disease, and many noted his preoccupation with the theme of surviving illness and facing down death in The Executive Director of the Fallen World, his last and finest poetry collection. Whatever the mysteries surrounding Rector’s suicide, the book is full of fallen, disillusioned personae, many of them confronting terminal illness and death, and all of them easy to identify with the poet himself. But Rector’s hard-won insight and incandescent gallows humor lighten the way, intermixing pathos with practical wisdom, tragedy with relentless sass. Often his mordant irony and slang diction prove to be his best defenses against despair, as in “So We’ll Go No More,” which presents a dying speaker’s valediction to his lover: “Cancer, heart attack, bypass—all // In the same year? My chances / Are 20%! And I’m fucking well / Ready, ready to go.” —Robert Schnall, Boston Review

Poetry Society of America: William Carlos Williams Award
Honorable Mention

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