A Primer on Parallel Lives by Dan Gerber (Copper Canyon Press) is Gerber’s seventh book of poetry and explores his fears and doubts as a youth growing up in western Michigan. Gerber won the 1992 Michigan Author Award and is a past recipient of the Mark Twain Award. In her Books in Northport blog, bookseller and friend of Gerber’s P.J. Grath writes that the book is:
Searingly personal without being in any way tediously introspective or agonizing, the poems in this volume are haunted by the presence of the poet’s mother (from his childhood to her old age) and graced by natural objects. They are also criss-crossed by dogs, his constant companions (â€œMy old dog’s eyes stay with me/though she’s goneâ€), and frequently visited by the Buddha.
Much of the imagery is Western. This is natural, in that Gerber now makes his home in the West. But Michigan, unnamed, is still in the background, as I sense in this stanza:
I am always returning to the edge of water,
lapping at the loam of a bank under pine needles,
and slapping at the bellies of dock planks.
Or I’m looking into one of those still, black ponds,
which seems to me like a pupil of the planet,
through which it watches the other stars
and finally our own silent faces,
going down to its ever-intensified heart.
You can read a few more of the poems from the publisher’s web site (new window).
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