The Power, the Poetry, and the Glory of the Well-Written Word
January 3, 2013
Words continue to astound me. I read them every day. I write them every day. And occasionally, they are assembled in a way that brands an imprint on my brain that will not soon disappear. Perhaps never.
Let me introduce you to two very different books. Yet they have one thing in common. Words. And the words do indeed make a difference and bring life to the printed page.
A Review of Money Land by R. S. Guthrie:
Okay. So what do you want in a great book. Do you want an unforgettable character? R. S. Guthrie certainly produces one in Money Land. His name is James Pruett. His job is the county Sheriff. He has two goals in life. One is to fight his way past the personal demons that have threatened his sanity, if not his life – first alcohol, then the death of his wife, and a genuine need to reconnect with his daughter again – and an undying passion and commitment to protect the people of his home country. The Sheriff is a deeply flawed man. He is, however, a man who will do what it takes for as long as it takes to bring law and order to the land he loves.
Do you want an unforgettable setting? The plot for Money Land unfolds against the remote and glacial Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. It is some of the most beautiful and rugged country in America, and it has bred generations of people who are just as tough and just as rugged. They will fight each other. They will fight with and for each other. It all depends on the circumstances, and Sheriff James Pruett is the one steady constant they can believe in even when they’re mad enough to kill him.
Do you want an unforgettable plot? It’s all there tucked away within the pages of Money Land, written by a man who knows the country, knows the people, and can interpret how they would react when faced with the brutality of a drug cartel who has lost a plane in the Wind River Mountains and who have found their money missing. Somebody has to pay. And all hell is breaking loose on the streets of the small and isolated little town. You have the Feds trying to ferret out an international crime organization.
You have innocents dying without ever knowing why. And only one man can keep it all under control if everybody would just get out of his way and let him do his job. No one does it better than Pruett. The Sheriff just may be one of the most fascinating characters step out in literature since Robert Parker’s Spenser and James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux. Break the law, and he’ll take you in. Make him mad, and he’ll whip you. Threaten his town or his family, and you’re a dead man walking.
I’ve been around a long time. I’ve read a lot of great books. This is one of them.
A Review of Freeze Frame by Paul Tobin, Jo VonBargen, Claude Nougat, Oscar Sparrow, Jefferson Hansen, and Cindy Bright.
Just when I think I understand life, I read such inspirational works as the poems in Freeze Frame and realize I have only touched the surface. The wonders of life lie far deeper, and it takes the mind, the soul, and the touch of poet to find them. As readers and livers of life, we are indeed fortunate to have the powerful and though-provoking words of such talented poets as Jo VonBargen, Oscar Sparrow, Claude Nougat, Cindy Bright, Jefferson Hansen, and Paul Tobin all wrapped up within a single volume that is both mesmerizing and haunting.
As Jo VonBargen writes about our wayward journeys on earth, poetry is little more than “our weary eyes seeking … no … needing a peaceful existence, all coral dawns and sunsets, purely our, immortal.” And so we do. She points out that words are all that a poet has to bring to the world and all that she has to leave. She says: poems are “our gift to dreamers of the future, preserved whole beyond the death of our eyes, our bleached bones, our ashes.”
Poets like Claude Nougat see beyond the beauty and understand the reality of truth. As she writes, “Love can come unexpected in the middle of the night. A young man, his eyes full of stars, will love you and walk away. He will come back, Pauline, as often as you want. But remember to pay him. Everyone has a price.”
Poetry, quite simply, is forever. And Oscar Sparrow knows that, for always, the shadows of mystery have formed the backdrop to our lives. Through poetry, we can peel back the layers and discover who we are and, more importantly, who we should be. As a poet, Oscar says, “All I can do is throw the odd poem at the brick wall of my ignorance. I may chip a brick if I keep going long enough.”
Some of us can’t see the forest for the trees. Some fail to see the trees for the forest. The poets who created the anthology of Freeze Frame have been able to see it all, have gone where our minds never dare venture, and bring back for us the joys and mysteries we have missed.