Full disclosure: I am a strong partisan when it comes to this writer’s work. This is not a “blind” review, and I am not “disinterested,” by a long shot. Okay, got it?
Poet A. Bona (he's our friend, and we call him Al) refers to his writing as “the rhymes and measure of my lifelong childhood.” I have an advance reader’s copy of his new book of poems here beside me. Titled Sand, produced by Daniel Stewart of the Old Scott Farm in Omena, with a David Grath painting on the cover, the book is a hauntingly beautiful object, one we have eagerly awaited.
I prepare to travel. I open the book. It begins, “We know the author reads and writes....”
Lines of type, page after page, carry me far from any thought of paper and ink. I am far from myself, off in ancient Greece and Rome and in Korea when the American army was there, at the world’s fair in Chicago, seeing prairie, lakeshore and ocean. Time travel, soul travel--back and forth through history the magic carries me. David and I have read most of these poems before, beginning about ten years ago when Al first revealed this side of himself (his truest self, I always think) to us, so as a bookseller as well as a friend I am thrilled beyond measure to have this book at last to share with a wider public. And suddenly I am impatient for spring and our return to Michigan--impatient to be in my bookstore again, preparing for a reception to fête the author, and also, simply, longing for the northern spring, stabbed with homesickness as lines with crab apple, wild grape and beach plum tug at my heart.
But I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Bona is a lifelong and experienced gardener, attuned to the natural world, it’s true, but make no mistake about what awaits you in these poems. Bona pulls no punches. His poet’s report on humanity is not limited to “nice news.” No, his vision takes in financial and political idiocy, and along with the poet and his friends, in these pages we also meet the looters of Haiti, masturbating enlisted men overseas, relentless bank regulators at home and a giant sea turtle with the history of the end of the world carved into its shell. Preachers and philosophers are given short shrift.
This is not only Bona’s world. It is our world. Watch “Books in Northport” in early May for announcement of the launch party for Sand. You won’t want to miss it.