It’s my great pleasure to announce the publication of my most recent book of poetry, Crow on the Wire. The book is currently available for purchase along with my other books at this link on the lulu.com website, & will soon be joining the rest at Amazon.com as well as Barnes & Noble online. I’m also hoping to make them available at some local booksellers here in Portland, Oregon, but I have to admit I’m much better at writing poetry than at marketing it.
Crow on the Wire has the odd distinction of being both the longest book of poems I’ve ever written—the book is 188 pages & contains 231 poems—& also being the book written in the shortest amount of time. Ullambana in Portland was published at the end of September 2016, & I began writing the first poems for Crow on the Wire just after that. The final two poems for the book were composed on February 23, 21017—a pace that was exhilarating, unprecedented, & yes, at time even alarming. To quote the book’s Preface:
These poems were composed in a rush of inspiration between the beginning of October 2016 & late February 2017. Although I’ve been seriously engaged in writing poetry for the better part of 40 years, I’ve never before enjoyed such a fruitful period; it was a blessing overall, & I’m deeply grateful. On the other hand, as Arvo Pärt has said of music, while poetry is my “friend” & “comforter”, & indeed a source of “liberation”, it can be “also a painful thorn in flesh & soul.” Nonetheless, as I hope this book suggests, we must strive to accept the gift as given.
The poems in Crow on the Wire are very loosely based on the Chinese lüshi & jueju forms, & so are all in eight & four line lengths. Some poems double or even quadruple the eight-line form. The poems don’t rhyme—as the Chinese poems do—& there’s no way to duplicate the pitch patterns or concision of the Chinese language. But in addition to the line lengths the following formal considerations have been retained: a strict syllable count; the couplet as the primary building block; & presentation based on parallelism & a series of images.
Crow on the Wire is the first in a series of three planned books that will form a poetic journal over a 12-month span, more or less from one “mid-autumn moon” to the next. Poems from the second book have been appearing on the blog for a few weeks now, & while they retain the same form, they have changed in voice & focus as the season changes. As was the case with Crow on the Wire, not all the poems from the second book will appear on the blog.
Thanks as always for your interest in my poetry & in Robert Frost’s Banjo. Both mean a great deal to me. Finally, to quote one last time from the Preface:
The crow on the wire stands poised between earth & heaven, between the ever-present now & the ever-emerging future. The crow—pervasive in this urban landscape—plumage dark as letters on a page, forthcoming, intelligent & savvy, sociable but wary, guided by its own rules of conduct: now on the wire; now on the wing.