Thursday, May 5, 2016

Review of A Flutter of Birds Passing Through Heaven

Here's The New York Journal of Books review
of our new book, A FLUTTER OF BIRDS

Call it an appreciation, a gathering, a do-it-yourself
biography, what this amounts to is an authentic tribute
to an important American poet. Robert Sund (1929– 2001)
lived and worked the woods country of Washington state
as poet, artist, musician, teacher. Author Tom Robbins wrote
in 1969, “Sund is likely the finest poet now practicing in
the Pacific Northwest.”

What editors Allen Frost and Paul Piper have done is
assemble a rich collection of Sund’s own writing and
honest recollections and tributes to the man and his work.
These include some of the best writers from that era or area:
Kenneth Rexroth, William Carlos Williams, Gary Snyder,
Robert Bly, as well as his more intimate friends and fellow
artists: Charlie Craft, Tim McNulty, Arjuna (Diane) Barton,
Joseph Stroud, Frances McCue, and about 40 more.

The book is beautifully laid out and lush with graphic images
of the poet and friends, but also with copies of some of the
correspondence and posters of events. Sund lived extremely
humbly in a fisherman’s shack, often off of the good will of
friends. Each element fills in a story that the reader constructs
without a narrator’s bias.  

Sund’s own poetics are summed up in his description of T
he Sullivan Slough Review publication, which he edited briefly:
“We are interested most in silence, and in great agedness.
We want to publish the work of poets, who are like insects,
free from dogma, fully a part of their world, alive, solitary
members of the brotherhood of poetry, religious, thoughtful,
full of clarity, and related to everything.” Fortunately for the
readers such poetry, his own and others, fill this book. Here
is a poem from his running journal dated September 22:

Invited to stay here, there is a room
upstairs. Going to live in Bellingham
now, there is a fine spirit coming alive
here, a warmth that is present from house
to house, casual friendship but springing
from deep concern. This is a very large family.
This book emanates from this generous spirit.

Robert Sund is perhaps best known for the books Bunch Grass,
Ish River, Poems from Ish River Country: Collected Poems &
Translations, Taos Mountain, and Notes from Disappearing
Lake: The River Journals of Robert Sund. There are also a host
of beautifully done chapbooks.

It is entirely appropriate that two poets, Frost and Piper,
from Bellingham, Washington, should produce this essential book
from a small literary press, Good Deed Rain. 

Larry Smith is the author of Lake Winds: Poems (2014), 
Kenneth Patchen: Rebel Poet in America (Bottom Dog Press,
reprinted 2012), and Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Poet-at-Large
(Southern Illinois University Press, 1982). He is also the
publisher at Bottom Dog Press.

- See more at:

No comments:

Post a Comment