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Monday, July 25, 2011

Pandora's Box #2

Pandora’s Box
v. 1 #2  

a Monthly Column on Poetry from the Western Slope's Poet Laureate

by Art Goodtimes

On the Road

Traveling socks sand
into shoes
Grain into cedar

Builds all around grit
Great stuff
to spend the rest of

the year
smoothing into meaning
polishing into ink

POEM OF MY OWN … Summer is a bad time to start things. I started this column as a monthly in May, but June was travel prep and July vacation. I was on the road until just this evening  (actually got to hear Canned Heat’s version of “On the Road Again” on the radio when we were driving through Hoquiam) …The intent is to begin with a poem of my own, chat about various poetry items, and end with a featured poet … So, let’s take it from the top here at the end of July, with an August version to come soon.

JOHN NIZALOWSKI … My good buddy, poet, professor, book reviewer and biographer (whose youngest, Isadora, is my goddaughter), John Nizalowski of Grand Junction has published a new chapbook of poetry, The Last Matinée (Turkey Buzzard Press, Kittredge CO 80457, 2011). And he’s holding a free poetry reading in celebration of the book, along with publisher and poet Padma Jared Thornlyre, at Planet Earth & the Four DirectionsGallery in Grand Junction, Friday, July 29th at 7 p.m. … Highly recommended. 

POWELL’S … No visit to Portland would be fitting without at least one stop in Powell’s – one of the biggest and most successful independent bookstores in the nation … Checked the used poetry stacks and found lots of great titles. Almost got a couple books about legendary SF poet Jack Spicer, but settled for a staff pick: Apropos of Nothing by Richard Jones (Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, 2006). Brilliant work. Simple, clear, metaphoric and with what the book jacket rightly calls “luminous interiority”.
MALPAÍS REVIEW … Just got my block-buster copy of this litzine’s summer issue -- the Malpaís Review, where “the Badlands are everywhere.” Into its second year, MR is edited by Gary L. Brower with help from Dale Harris – both fine New Mexico poets in their own right ... This issue features a mini-anthology of Latvian poetry in translation; featured sections on the poetry of Mario Benedetti, Sy Hoahwah, Lawson Inada and Wayne Crawford; and lots of good work by names I know (Don McIver, Don Levering, Ann Valley-Fox) and names I don’t (Kale Baldock, Dee Cohen, Juan Antonio Masóliver) … Highly recommended.

RACHEL KELLUM … I first met this excellent poet from Brush, out on the eastern plains, this past winter. An ivory black scarf around her neck, as daring as any avant-garde Isadora, Rachel read her powerful poems at the Karen Chamberland Poetry Festival in Carbondale, while centered in a Tai Chi stance --
calm, quiet but deeply inviting … We’ve been exchanging poems via email, and it’s been a delight to find such a powerful new voice. She also paints, raises children, and teaches at Fort Morgan Community College. A super-woman for sure.

RED BIRD … For years G. Leonard Bird was my inspiration for poetry on the Western Slope. He taught at Ft. Lewis College and had been an editor for the Rocky Mountain Literary Review when I came to Colorado in ’79. His book, River of Lost Souls from John Brandi’s Santa Fe-based Tooth of Time Press, was powerful good medicine … We became friends. I lectured in his class. He brought students to my Talking Gourds poetry events. In the last years of his life, this fine teacher/writer/peace activist and his wife Jane alternated between Michigan and San Miguel de Allende … He passed away last fall, and this summer a memorial was held June 4th at Ft. Lewis, with poetry and music. I was unable to attend, but sent a poem … Many of us will long remember a wonderful man who gave his all to his students and inspired a whole generation of poets and activists.


WAY OF THE MOUNTAIN … Mountain Gazette is archiving the Way of the Mountain poetry page that I started this spring in their publication – inheriting the MG poetry editor mantle from the late Karen Chamberlain of the Roaring Fork Valley and before that Peter Anderson of Crestone.

GOURD CIRCLE POET … Traveling to Portland for a political meeting, I got to visit an old friend I hadn’t seen in years, Eric Walter. A fine poet, one of the original founders of the Fire Gigglers, a gifted musician and father to a son (Jacob) the same age as my boy (Gorio) … The four of us spent a lovely day along the Willamette River visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry with its WWII submarine tours, IMAX theater, dazzling science exhibits (it was the first time I’d seen an actual diorama of a fetus in a womb through each week of a pregnancy) and interactive stations that kept us all busy for hours (I learned my left hand has a stronger grip than my right) … After years in Colorado, Eric had moved back to Portland where he’d originally studied theater at Reed College, and began focusing more on his music (he and his son had just finished playing a Renaissance Faire when we came to visit). An admirer of Dolores LaChapelle, he’d let his connection to the natural world take center stage in his poetry. The poem below is from his last chapbook, Sounds from the Old Lodge (Castle Rock Publ., Prescott, AZ, 2004). He’s hoping to have a new chapbook out this year.

In the church of deep woods
old, aromatic
cedar and doug fir
pine and hemlock

stretch cool veils
of shade
over rock and rill hymns

gardens of vanilla leaf
cow parsnip and skunk cabbage

where black bear roam
etch their passing
in bark

and elk, deer
raccoon congregate
at river’s edge

in prayer
for the rare human
pilgrims that arrive

humble, and always
very tired

copyright Eric Walters

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