Monday, May 13, 2013

THE SINGING INSIDE


One of the perks of my association with Pinyon Publishing is that I sometimes form a friendship with a fellow poet, via e-mail, and the poet and I make a spiritual connection through reading each other's work.  One of those incidents of serendipity has been through my recent correspondence with Michael Miller, a very fine poet who lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Michael and I share a fondness for the New England poet Robert Francis, "a man who owned freedom and leisure," as I described him in a former poem – a poet who subsisted on a pittance for years before being recognized as an important New England poet.

I reviewed Michael Miller's newest book of poetry, Into This World, published by Pinyon Publishing, a few weeks ago, and before I traveled to Florida recently, Miller referred me to another of his works, The Singing Inside, a beautiful book of poetry set by hand in 14 pt. Perpetua, a font designed by Eric Gill.  The text was printed letterpress on a Heidelberg Original Cylinder press, and the cover was printed by hand on a 10x15 Chandler and Price platen press.  Artwork was printed from wood engravings by Frank C. Eckmair, and the book was designed and printed by Birch Brook Press.

I describe these exterior qualities because I seldom see such beautiful, hand-printed books of poetry.  The Singing Inside accurately defines the poetry inside – the singing inside of a man who pays tribute to his wife and their journey together as they mature in married love, passionately and honestly.  There are so many fine poems in the volume that I wouldn't strike out even one as unfit for the theme of married love, from its inception as a passionate love affair to the present decade of their aging.  Miller sings about the latter stage of married love: "Our house is singing as it sinks/A gradual decline with choruses/We can hear beyond the floorboards/Cracking, the old beams creaking,/The stone foundation shifting as if/It were looking for a place to escape./How we resist our body's aging!/Resentful of our brittle bones,/Our muscles slackening as if asleep,/Come, let's open all the windows/And sing to the warblers, the wrens."

I was also impressed by the cogent feelings expressed in two exquisite love poems reminiscent of the Persian poet Rumi, on facing pages, XIX and XX, the latter defining a love that has been plumbed and kept intact: "We have delved into the anatomy/Of each other's darkness,/Of each other's light,/Uncovering a grave,/Unveiling a hidden sun./We have explored without a caution,/Reconnoitering each other's heart,/Refusing to believe there is/Nothing left to discover."

Although Miller speaks of "maple leaves reddening and curling at their edges," he recognizes that mature love takes "decades of struggle/And ease to arrive at this/Three-foot wall built with/Smooth and rough stones/Where the countries of lichen grow,/And we sit upon it looking out/With the joined perfection of hands."

These poems are true and powerful – no frills, each word crafted with precision, each poem condensed into tight, concrete imagery and rendered in passionate phrasing.  I read this volume while vacationing in Weston, Florida, a city of wonderful light and felt a synchronicity of environment and the wonderful clarity and light in The Singing Inside.
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