"Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer," Steve Scafidi's first book of poems, reads almost like a collaboration between William Faulkner and W.H. Auden. Like Faulkner, Scafidi feels the ponderous weight of Southern history pressing on his shoulders; contrasting the 1916 burning of Jesse Washington with the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., Scafidi says, "Most white American men are the same color they were then." But, like Auden, he is able to pass from the odium of history to take joy in the physical world. Scafidi's funny and exquisite "Latitudes of Desire" riffs brilliantly on the sight of his wife wearing only her blue panties, taking the reader on a mock-epic journey across oceans and continents in a celebration of romantic and erotic love. Scafidi's language is labyrinthine and sensuous, a lava flow of words engulfing and preserving for all time every sight and thought in its path. Here is a young poet who writes with the delicacy and assurance of a master; I look forward to seeing what he gives us next.