Help Is on the Way
John Brehm University of Wisconsin Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3602.R444H45 2012 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Help Is On the Way takes readers from the subways of New York City to the savannas of Paleolithic Africa to the transplant ward of Kyoto University Hospital. But whatever their setting, these poems are enlivened by the subtle music, penetrating wit, and remarkable emotional honesty that won high praise for John Brehm’s earlier collection, Sea of Faith, and constitute his singularly engaging voice.
No Day at the Beach
John Brehm University of Wisconsin Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3602.R444N6 2020 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
With his trademark self-deprecating wit, unflinching honesty, and sparkling language, John Brehm’s latest collection invites readers along on his spiritual journey. No Day at the Beach traces a progression from loneliness and the magnetic pull of the past to the grace that is found through immersion in the present and the melancholy beauty of impermanence. Informed by Brehm’s Buddhist practice and enlivened by his comic insights, these poems take on a universal dimension, allowing the reader to both luxuriate in the moment and reflect on each poem’s spiritual depth.
By turns playfully philosophical and bracingly open hearted, Brehm’s engagement with the specters of memory, pride, yearning, gain, and loss illuminate the human condition with humor and empathy.
Sea of Faith
John Brehm University of Wisconsin Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3602.R444S43 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
"Fun, wisdom, tasty language. Sea of Faith has real subways in it as well as real rivers, mountains and dogs, scoops of heartbreak, sightings of beauty. Yes, sad or happy, the poems are alive. Sea of Faith was a complete pleasure for me to read." —Alicia Ostriker, author of The Crack in Everything
In a masterful blending of lyric and narrative, Sea of Faith ranges widely across interior states and external worlds. From the Sierra Nevadas to New York City subways, from an imagined friendship with Lao Tzu to a rueful meditation on Coney Island, from a comic and poignant classroom discussion of "Dover Beach" to a sexual fantasy spawned by a tedious poetry reading, John Brehm’s poems explore the human predicament with tenderness, compassion, and unforgettable humor.
"The poems in Sea of Faith present us with a vivid dramatic voice, one determined to engage with a world that often seems intangible and remote, and to resist a world that seems all too real and disappointing. The speaker here is both self-mocking and self-accepting, taking his concerns seriously but always distant enough from them to regard them as a small part of a larger human story, a story we recognize at once to be our own."—Carl Dennis, Brittingham Prize judge and author of Practical Gods
"John Brehm writes on a knife edge. His voice would be ironic if it weren’t for the sustained emotion, the opening to the unknown, the ‘electric calm.’ These elegant poems wear their eloquence lightly; the stakes are high. Sea of Faith is an unforgettable book."—D. Nurkse, author of The Fall
The mere word "bureaucracy" brings to mind images of endless lines, piles of paperwork, and frustrating battles over rules and red tape. But some bureaucracies are clearly more efficient and responsive than others. Why? In Teaching, Tasks, and Trust, distinguished political scientists John Brehm and Scott Gates show that a good part of the answer may be found in the roles that middle managers play in teaching and supporting the front-line employees who make a bureaucracy work. Brehm and Gates employ a range of sophisticated modeling and statistical methods in their analysis of employees in federal agencies, police departments, and social service centers. Looking directly at what front-line workers say about their supervisors, they find that employees who feel they have received adequate training have a clearer understanding of the agency's mission, which leads to improved efficiency within their departments. Quality training translates to trust – employees who feel supported and well-trained for the job are more likely to trust their supervisors than those who report being subject to constant monitoring and a strict hierarchy. Managers who "stand up" for employees—to media, government, and other agency officials—are particularly effective in cultivating the trust of their workers. And trust, the authors find, motivates superior job performance and commitment to the agency's mission. Employees who trust their supervisors report that they work harder, put in longer hours, and are less likely to break rules. The authors extend these findings to show that once supervisors grain trust, they enjoy greater latitude in influencing how employees allocate their time while working. Brehm and Gates show how these three executive roles are interrelated—training and protection for employees gives rise to trust, which provides supervisors with the leverage to stimulate improved performance among their workers. This new model—which frames supervisors as teachers and protectors instead of taskmasters—has widespread implications for training a new generation of leaders and creating more efficient organizations. Bureaucracies are notorious for inefficiency, but mid-level supervisors, who are often regarded as powerless, retain tremendous power to build a more productive workforce. Teaching, Tasks, and Trust provides a fascinating glimpse into a bureaucratic world operating below the radar of the public eye—a world we rarely see while waiting in line or filling out paperwork. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust