Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Book of Poems: Radiant Snow

My Poetry Book

My collected poems are finally available through Amazon. Actually, they've been available for a few weeks, but I was waiting till the ebook was also available. A few days ago, the ebook was posted and I bought a copy, only to discover that Amazon recognized none of my formatting, so my poems were jammed together in such a way as to be unreadable. I will need to get this fixed sometime soon, but if you want the poems and are willing to have a paperback, you can get it through Amazon.

Here's what my old friend Natalie Macris wrote as a preface to these poems:
Years ago, my friend Jeff told me he had started to write some poetry. He remembers showing me a few lines and me teasing him about writing "dirty poems," but I recall being more encouraging. We were in our twenties, students at Berkeley – why not dabble in poetry? And while I might have been surprised – Jeff didn't fit the stereotype of a dreamy poet – I had learned to expect surprises from him. He came from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas – commonly and derisively known as "hillbilly country" – and yet he was a scholar in what seemed the most esoteric of fields. At first meeting he was serious, almost severe in demeanor, but as I soon learned he was also kind and had an earthy sense of humor. And while he could match intellects with anyone at Berkeley, he liked to seek out rough bars where we could drink beer with non-university people.

Not long after that first mention of his poems, Jeff read some of them to me. I don't know much about poetry, I thought, but these seem very good. I especially loved "Water Witching," how it evoked images of Jeff's Arkansas homeland and the grandmother he had mentioned so often. And it expressed nuances of thought and feeling that I couldn't imagine putting into words, let alone such beautiful words. Again, he surprised me. Who knew such delicate emotions lurked beneath the surface?

In what seemed like just a matter of months, Jeff won the university's Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prize in Poetry, and I was watching my friend standing on a stage under a spotlight, reading his work to an auditorium full of people. Once again I was surprised, although perhaps I shouldn't have been. He may have been writing poetry only a short time, but of course he would go on to win a major award. It was an early sign of his versatility, which would eventually produce a diverse body of work ranging from scholarly articles and a Korean-English translation of Yi Kwang-su's novel The Soil with his wife, Sun-Ae Hwang, to a novella titled The Bottomless Bottle of Beer.

It was only recently that Jeff told me I was the first person ever to see his poems. Yet again I was surprised, but this time also flattered and honored – and so glad he has compiled them to share with the world. Everything I've known about him is here: his subtle grasp of life's mysteries; the sensitive observations about love, lust, and human nature; an appreciation of the natural world, of Arkansas and the many places he's been since then; an ear for language, especially the language of his native Ozarks; the moral and Biblical underpinnings; the salty humor; and even his love of beer. They create a perfect portrait of a unique and talented man.
As can be seen, Natalie herself is a good writer. In fact, she is also an editor - and has even published a book on clear writing. Here's her website.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in my poetry, go to Amazon and see the free preview.



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