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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sampling Dale Favier's "Opening the World"

The cover features an oil-on-panel by Robin Weiss.
In our sometimes prosaic world, poetry needs all the favors and luck it can get. I have been reading Dale Favier's Opening the World from Jo Hemmant's Pindrop Press. Mid-way, I announce: I like it; I recommend it. The other side of the coin says you might like it; you could buy it and find out.

Unlike many people he looks at the world from a particular angle; he has a stance and point of view. It's not mine, so I enjoy peering through his eyes--as, here:


Full moon tonight,
pouring through seaglass.
Distance, some say,
is the garden of illusion;
but philosophers of sight
used to fret about why, if you press
an object to your eye,
you cannot see it. Some distance,
they concluded, is required.

Oh, don't cry, don't cry, dear.
The blundering stops
and so do we.
When the rattle of the world
fades away, and the stars
vanish into light, we will be
droplets on a high webstrand
spun between two branches.

And here I especially like the dream muddle of rain with snow, snow and blossom, rain and tears, sky and eyes--and the music of the thing:


the rain you sent was mixed with snow.
I could not tell which between
the snowflakes and the apple blossom
on the black sidewalk; I woke and you were

weeping on my chest. Your hair
and the snow and the apple blossom,
I could not tell which between
the sky and your eyes;
I dreamed that you were here.
I could not tell which between
the dream and the sky, the tears and your hair,
the sidewalk and the waking.
the rain you sent was mixed with snow.

Now I think we need a poem to go with that snazzy-looking cover with birds. Here's Dale grabbing Crow as a subject. Watch out, Ted Hughes! I especially like the demented pigeon, the crow-motion, Crow's philosophy, and the cowlick feathers. As in children's books about talking animals, we feel quite sure that we know these creatures as people, too.


Crow cocks his head for a swift, assessing look.
A quick grab and a prancing gallop
(skip to my Lou, skip to my Lou)
out of the traffic:
safe enough. He holds the captive burger bag
down with one foot and tears
with a strong black beak. Nothing.
Tears again, and again, till the bag is in tatters.
Nothing inside.

He's philosophical about it.
Some bags have stuff and some don't;
there's no way to know without ripping them up.
It's all in a crow's day's work. With a toss of his head
and a flirt of wings, he throws it aside, and the wind
takes it into the street again.

He takes time out to jeer at a pigeon
on general principles. His chest
swells up; he squints and bobs and he rasps
out the insults; it hurts your throat
just to look at it. Whatever you may think
of crows, they're willing to work. Anything
worth doing, says crows, is worth doing

Pigeon blinks and totters and starts and endless mutter
of excuses and extenuations. Crow's having none of it.
He takes to the air and pulls, wing-grip by wing-grip,
up to the telephone wires. Takes two deep breaths
and calls the pigeon some more choice names,
and then ignores it, majestically, while the pigeon
is still explaining that the thing is, it's not so,
I didn't mean, you can't just say, it's only, you know?

--whatever pigeon's say. Crow's on the lines,
swaying in the wind, above it all; the strong free air
ruffling his cowlicked feathers. It's good
to be alive.

Like these poems and want to help get the word out to readers? What can one do to help?
1. Tweet this post.
2. Do a tweet about the book.
3. Share via facebook--this post or your own--Google+, and such places.
4. Do a blog post. Or you may steal this post and re-post: be my guest.
5. Collar your friends and practice word of mouth.
6. Does your local library have a suggestion box? Drop one in!
7. Share the book on goodreads or similar sites.

And now I need to go read another of Dale's poems... You may find more of them at his blog, mole.

Marly Youmans's novel now in pre-order is A Death at the White Camellia OrphanageHer 2011 book of poems is The Throne of Psyche.


  1. Oh, bless you, Marly! Thanks so much.

  2. Oops, just added a line with your blog, too.

    And I hope that every little bit (this little bit in particular) helps, Dale!

  3. I will do at least one of those things Marly. I unfortunately cannot buy the book right now. Too broke. But I will do what I can.
    Just love the crow poem!

  4. Robbi,

    All we can do is what we can. Just shake a leg and do a little can-can!

  5. You know, I've never to my knowledge read Ted Hughes. I'd better do so quick, and find out what I'm universally taken to be riffing on!

    God, how do people ever become versed in modern poetry? There's so damn much of it! It's overwhelming.

  6. Bit hard to ignore Hughes on the subject of Crow.

    Don't worry--there's only a usual amount of gold to pan!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.