Book Review: Two books of moving poetry elicit myriad moods
Book Review: "A field Guide to Fire" (FutureCycle Press) by David Chorlton
"Going Down Grand" (Lithic Press)by Peter Anderson and Rick Kempa
In "A Field Guide to Fire," Prescott artist Julie Comnick rendered her illustrations of various fires with charcoal personally collected from each site. Each fire, along with its brilliant graphic depiction, is accompanied by a poem by David Chorlton, and his moving words illustrate each fire in different ways: "When darkness turns electric/and the sky descends/to where the ponderosas stand/fire writes its name on air/with lightning five times hotter/ than the sun," Chorlton writes of the Woolsey Fire - and the Yarnell Hill with "... splintered bark/and residue from a fire/that split stones open/when it had no more forest/to burn."
The two artists collaborated on this project under the auspices of the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, the Flagstaff Arts Council and the Landscape Conservation Initiative. As a part of a larger group of artists, Chorlton and Comnick toured the fire sites to see "exactly what fire can do, and what it has done historically to help avoid ... vast and disastrous burns." They will present their artistic findings at the Peregrine Book Company at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.
Although graphic illustrations are not a part of "Going Down Grand," edited by Peter Anderson and Rick Kempa, the poems themselves paint indelible pictures of the Grand Canyon experience: "A wave-bigger than any animate thing/you had ever encountered - licked you/from your boat, swallowed you. Down its icy throat/into its belly, into no-breath, into whirl," writes poet Bill Noble, while Rick Kempa invites us into his Canyon experience with "A drift of skunk, I open my eyes/blink, and watch the stars one by one/perch on the black ridgeline, then/leap bravely into the brimming sky."
"If you drink your tea by the light," writes Carol Henrie, "gnats and mosquitos dive in/and drown. But if you drink in the dark/you might swallow something you failed/to see."
I counted 68 poems and every one of them depicts a wholly different experience, a wholly different mood, but all of them an authentic part of the Grand Canyon experience.
Come hear several of the poets share their Grand Canyon experiences at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 at the Peregrine Book Company.