Monday, December 05, 2005

Samples From Three New Arrivals

Voice of the Borderlands, by Drum Hadley.Three new arrivals---all deserving (and soon to receive) further exploring:

Voice of the Borderlands, by Drum Hadley
With a forward by Gary Snyder and illustrations by Andrew Rush, this 368-page collection of 4 "books" published by Tucson's Rio Nuevo Publishers is described by poet and rancher Hadley thusly:

These poems record voices and events occurring over deaces of life in the Borderlands or in places that have affected the Borderlands. The italicized names beneath poems may represent a voice captured, a story's main subject, or, in many cases, its inspirtation. Some names and places have been changed out of respect for the memories of the dead or for the sensitivities of the living.

Here's a sample from the first section:


If you see a feller, standin' around with a big, broad-brimmed hat,
Slouched down outside of a cantina in the Borderlands,
Or maybe by the edge of a building in a little Mexican town,
If he's lookin' across the lands, towards the ends of those blue distances,
And if he looks like he's half the man he could be
Without a horse between his legs,
That feller might be a cowboy.
But you never can tell, just by lookin'.

Sort of a Whalt Whitman meets Gary Snyder meets cowboy poetry, giving a deep and passionate voice to the Borderlands of Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. We'll see if we can't excerpt some of this for the next issue of, I think.

~ ~ ~

Subject to Change: Poems, by Matthew Thorburn
Swapped books with Matthew after a lead by Suzanne Frischkorn (thanks, once again, Suzanne!). I've only read a couple randomly discovered pieces, but can already tell this will be a real delight, as in this intricately woven and finely textured poem:


And here's the clearing, the open space where
the river ravels off one smooth finger
and ferns and pockets of shadow pare
the light down back beneath the trees. Linger
now to hear two silver birds call out, Too
, then fly across that second sky, swiftly
overlapping on that slow-lapping blue.
Between what's going and what's gone, you see
that you're alone. The light falls fast.
So faint, the disappearing trees. Few things
last too long, and last things you let slip like so:
the river-sky dims; the birds, their song, long past.
Though you look, look again, till something sings
within you, and without that don't let go.

~ ~ ~

The Book of Medicines: Poems, by Linda Hogan
When I was in graduate school at the University of Colorado, I talked my advisor in the urban and regional planning program into letting me take an environmental essay class at the Boulder campus. Turns out the class, a small graduate workshop, was taught by Linda Hogan. It was a wonderful course that really helped develop my nonfiction craft, even over a period as short as a semester.

I found this one---dated 1993, published by Coffee House Press: a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award---at the Reader's Oasis bookstore's closeout sale, and scooped it up right away. Hogan's American Indian heritage is only part of why her story-telling, regardless of genre, is so superb:

Skin Dreaming

Skin is the closet thing to god,
touching oil, clay,
intimate with the foreign land of air
and other bodies,
places not in light,
for its own image.

It is awash in its own light.
It wants to swim and surface
from the red curve of sea,
open all its eyes.

Skin is the oldest thing.
It remembers when it was the cold
builder of fire,
when darkness was the circle around it,
when there were eyes shining in the night,
a breaking twig, and it rises
in fear, a primitive lord on new bones.

I tell you, it is old,
it heals and is sometimes merciful.
It is water.
It has fallen through ancestral hands.
It is the bearer of vanished forest
fallen through teeth and jaws
of earth
where we were once other
visions and creations.

~ ~ ~


Matthew Thorburn said...
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Matthew Thorburn said...

Thanks Simmons! Hope you enjoy the rest of the book...Matt