Category Archives: Prose poetry

“Dreaming of France” — Kerry Tepperman Campbell

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

In the summer of 2015, I organized a course for the CSU summer arts program that took place in Monterey Bay, California. Although the administrative duties of making that course happen, both in preparation and on site, proved to be extraordinarily exhausting, I am proud to look back on how fortunate I was to be able to call upon the talents of so many master poets: Marilyn Nelson, Douglas Kearney, Ellen Bass, Cecilia Woloch, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Yes, indeed, fortuity was on my side for once, for Juan had agreed to participate in this program several months before it was announced that he was the nation’s new poet laureate.

Among the very fine student-writers who showed up, one in particular shared portions of a work-in-progress that had considerable promise, and I am very happy to see that it has finally been published. Kreey Tepperman Campbell’s Dreaming of France is one of the hundred best books to be published in 2018. Whether it will get the recognition it deserves is unusually difficult to predict, for it will depend on how critics and reviewers are able to solve the problem of how to describe the book. Cecilia Woloch mentions this challenge in her blurb on the back cover:

“This is a book that’s impossible to categorize — it it poetry, prose, a novel? — and also one of the most beautiful books, deeply pleasurable things I’ve ever read.”

If one were to recommend Dreaming of France to a friend, and classify it as prose poetry, that reader would probably expect a volume that has a single narrator. Dreaming of France, however, presents us with a series of individual women, each of whom has a particular yearning for an encounter with a fulfilling radiance. There are over five dozen, distinctly titled sections or passages in Dreaming of France, and each one palpitates with with the solemn joy of expectation and renewal. Campbell’s debut publication, which was the winner of the 2017 Blue Light Book Prize, is a succinct masterpiece.

Kerry Tepperman Campbell will be reading from this book at Beyond Barqoue on the coming Saturday night, April 21, at 8 p.m. She should be reading from a stage at the L.A. Times Book Fair, which also takes that place that day. It is still the case that much of the most intriguing writing on the West Coast makes its Southern California debut at Beyond Baroque. I hope to see you there.

Dreaming of France
www.bluelightpress.com
1st World Library
P.O. Box 2211
Fairfield, IA 52556

Alexis Rhone Fancher on Margaret Tynes Fairley’s Poetry

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Don’t let the civility of a bygone century deceive you. Upon first reading, these poems to nature, gathered by season, highlight the surface transparency of Margaret Tynes Fairley’s work. All are beautifully crafted gems. All celebrate nature in her capricious glory. Yet on closer examination, each of these complex, exquisite poems contains facets somewhat off; the natural world, its order gone slightly awry. The human enters the equation, sometimes with joy, but often with heartbreak. Underneath the natural order: disorder. Even chaos. ‘The dark conspiracy of spruce.’ And below that, ‘a hint of insurrection;’ below that, a knowing calm. The earth’s pull, a centering, as the years swirl around the recurrent themes of birth, death, and renewal. Fairley, ‘dressed in motley,’ ‘playing the fool,’ delves into a nature so profound that it takes on and explores a chameleon persona – lover, sister, protector, and yes, beloved mother.

“Margaret Tynes Fairley transcends the centuries with poems lyrical yet terse and biting enough to satisfy the 21st century sensibilities in each of us.”

– Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, poetry editor, Cultural Weekly

Both Alexis and I drove up from the South Bay area to Beyond Baroque this past Sunday to celebrate the publication of Fairley’s collection poems, The Years Wear the Seasons, by Bambaz Press. Alexis drove from San Pedro with the smoothest flow of traffic that one could hope for; and Linda and I were equally fortunate. All three of us were exceptionally impressed by the passionate renditions of Fairley’s poems by her granddaughter, Rose, who works as a nurse in North Carolina.

I was also pleased to meet Matthew Hetznecker, who had a book entitled A.S. for sale, which was published four years ago. I have just begun to read its quartet of short prose installations: “Loose Ends”; “Ties That Bind”; “Laced”; “Knots.” The titles seem reticent to admit the subtle rambunctiousness of Hetznecker’s notations. His writing reminds me of the kind of work that George Drury Smith was seeking — and having a hard time finding — when he started his literary magazine, Beyond Baroque, a half century ago. Sometimes one must wait a long time for the right antecedent to show up.