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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Poet in His Summer Garden

The title of this post is a conscious echo of “The Scholar in the Narrow Street,” one of my favorites by a Chinese poet in the wonderful orange clothbound anthology I don’t have on hand at the moment, or I would tell you that poet’s name, too. The poet I visited in his garden is not, however, Chinese. No, with Bruce at the bookstore, I had a day to run around the county getting things done, and at the top of my to-do list was a meeting with Al Bona out at his house on Crystal Cove.

There is such a different feeling at the northernmost end of the peninsula. Whenever I get north of the Bight and past Woolsey Airport, everything feels more like the Straits of Mackinac or the Upper Peninsula than Leelanau County, and I feel I’m on vacation far, far from home. In fact, while Al and I were sitting in his garden, we heard loons laughing a little way up the shore. I never hear anything as wild and shy as loons from my farmhouse or in the village of Northport. Deer in town sometimes. Coyotes, yes, at the farm, Canada geese, wild turkeys, occasionally a sandhill crane, but never a loon. See what I mean about northern Leelanau Township?

Most of the photographs I took of Al (not this one) featured him holding a copy of his book of poems, Sand, on his beach, with sand and water in the background. But besides his gift for poetry, Al is a very knowledgeable and devoted gardener, so no visit to his home is complete without a tour of the garden, and at this time of year, the lilies are stealing the show.

There were so many gorgeous colors that it was difficult to choose a favorite, but if I had to select only one, it would probably be the pale beauty with black-outlined petals. How about you?

“In an ideal world,” I told him, “I would take off my shoes and stay all afternoon.” He laughed, but it was true—I did have other urgent stops to make. First I had to get the press releases (for Al’s event, as well as for Anne-Marie and Ben’s) and photographs to the Leelanau Enterprise office. Then it was time for a stop in Omena to pick up copies of Al’s book from Dan Stewart, publisher, at the Old Scott Farm. Dan was working against a deadline on another project, and I was hurrying to get back to Northport for a long-distance call, so there was no time to take pictures of the publisher in the lovely, shady farmhouse yard on Overlook Road. It is summer with a vengeance in Omena, though, and I did pull over long enough to document that fact.

Please note a new blog feature for the season. Near the top of the right-hand column is a schedule of summer author events at Dog Ears Books. You’ll see Al Bona’s book launch currently at the top of the list, set for Friday, July 16, 4-6 p.m. The poet admitted to getting somewhat excited as the date draws near. Me, I’m jumping out of my skin, nearly, when I look at the terrific line-up for July and August!


Anonymous said...

That lily looks like an apple blossom all dressed up for the ball! It's easy to see that working with authors is high on your list of Why I Am A Bookseller. Impressive lineup, PJ.

Karen said...

I'm looking forward to Al Bona's visit to Dog Ears. I really enjoyed his poetry at the library's poetry night. BTW as the happy owner of an orange cloth-bound book of Chinese poetry, I can tell you The Scholar in the Narrow Street was written by Tso Ssu. Missed seeing you today! Acquired Mao II by Don DeLillo and A. S. Byatt's A Whistling Woman.

P. J. Grath said...

I am absolutely over the moon about this season's lineup. I mean, I've had good writers and good books before, but this year--which was kicked off by Elizabeth Buzzelli, let's not forget--is outstanding. AND, my friends, it's an ALL-MICHIGAN CAST! "Thank God I am a bookseller!" to quote Roger Mifflin, that wonderful character in Christopher Morley's books.

Gerry, you are very perceptive. That lily is exactly the delicate color of apple blossoms. Karen, thanks much for the Chinese poet's name. (Do you love that poem, too?) Sorry I missed you, but Bruce conveyed your greeting.

A week from tomorrow: Al Bona!

dmarks said...

Great photos.

P. J. Grath said...

Hi, dmarks. The garden is way better than my photos, and the poetry is at least equal, maybe better than, the garden.