I just finished reading Steven Withrow’s newly released book of poetry, CRACKLES OF SPEECH. In his words, “This book is a gigantic milestone for me — more than a decade of work and play . . .”
These poems are for a general reading audience. His collection for younger readers (AVALANCHE AND OTHER POEMS) is also just coming out and I look forward to reading them. But back to CRACKLES. With this work Steven establishes himself as a voice to be heard, a gifted poet to read and reread. He has long been intrigued by rhyme and form and demonstrates it here with a delicious smorgasbord of poetic concoctions. Reading these poems is a lesson in variety that alone keeps you wondering what he’ll dish up next. He loves words and knows a lot of them so keep your references handy.
Skillfully blending colorful language with unique metaphors and similes, Steven tells us in WOOD THRUSH that two week old wood thrush chicks test their wings against the air, “…their tail feathers/bent out behind them, like fingers/clutching updrafts as a boy holds a book.” In BROKEN BRIDGE, “Between commutes, night workers/Houdini’d a two-lane overpass.” In SNOW IN APRIL he stands “…among a million moths.” When explaining to an arborist (RESCUING A SUGAR MAPLE) how he’s practiced the art of benign neglect regarding his yard, “He shrugs and starts to mark his pad –/a figure with a dollar sign./’Art,’ he says, and waits a moment/before handing over the bill,’is crabgrass, weeds, and dead shade trees.'” In describing the beheading of a snake in COPPERHEAD, “across an epic afternoon Dad demythologized/by chucking a tongueless S into the brush.”
Here’s how you can order your own copy. http://www.lulu.com/shop/steven-withrow/crackles-of-speech-poems/paperback/product-21767494.html
Congratulations to Steven Withrow. Ten years well spent. On to the next!