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Friday, February 5, 2010

Book Review: SAND

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.


Dawn said...

Sounds interesting! Perhaps when I'm up visiting I'll be able to pick up a copy.

Our winter is ambling along. Once again we are missing the "powerhouse" storm, it's all going south. My family in GA and AL are getting pounded by rain, here we might get an inch of snow. Have to wonder about their wish to move south to easier climates! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Oh, PJ, Sand sounds wonderful, and it looks beautiful, too. Please set aside a copy for me when the boxes of books arrive. Every poet should be so fortunate as to have a friend like you. That you are a bookseller as well is the cherry on top.

dmarks said...

Was there really a peom about the Columbian Exposition of 1893? Wow.

P. J. Grath said...

We will be able to arrange for copies for all who desire them, never fear. No, dmarks, not that fair but the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. Sorry to have been ambiguous.

Karen said...

I'll be there, to celebrate the book AND your return!!!

P. J. Grath said...

It's one of several bookstore events I'm already enjoying myself in anticipation, Karen.