Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE WILDERNESS POETRY OF WU XING

Susan Elliott, artist and designer of Pinyon Publishing’s newest publication, The Wilderness Poetry of Wu Xing by Peter Waldor, should get an award for the lovely cover design of this book! I always look forward to seeing Susan’s book covers and illustrations as they compare in excellence with the poetry and prose in the volumes that Pinyon produces. 
The Wilderness Poetry of Wu Xing evokes curiosity about the ancient poet Wu Xing and his succinct poems, as Waldor’s spare verse echoes his master’s voice in the wilderness where “he seeks places with no trails…perhaps not walked/for years,/an animal path,/ancient and dim.” Waldor’s sense of wonder has been nurtured by this ancient Asian master and sustains him in a contemporary world that often shuns the idea of seeking solitude in wilderness places. He responds to the busyness of that world in his poem “Exile,” writing: “Should I say/I am lost,/far from home,/as the masters/say from/their exiles?/I am glad/to be walking/high above/a village full/of strangers.” Yet, he also confesses a contradictory feeling, saying “…the further out/the friendlier people are,/even if they come/to avoid people.”
This is a book of brief tributes to Wu Xing and the natural world, written with the touch of a word watercolorist who quickly captures a walk in the wilderness where a “dream [is] gone/before the sleeper/awakes.” However, readers should savor and reflect on the verses to glean the wisdom and poetic tone of both Wu Xing living in his Asian wilderness and Peter Waldor struggling in his present-day wilderness.
In Wilderness Poetry, Waldor illuminates the ineffable with powerful lyrics that have a minimal construct, and it’s obvious that he hears a different drummer, one who adheres to the old maxim: “maximal meaning in minimal wording.” In the end poem entitled “Step, Rest,” he achieves 20 lines, but this is the longest poem in the book. Waldor’s work carries the influence of Oriental haiku, not relying on narrative but achieving wonderful visual representations, using minimal characters and descriptions; e.g., “Old Wheel:” “a girl runs in a clearing,/her far-off laughter/sounds like a wheel/grinding the road./Her black braid/darts behind her—/a curving black line.”
Readers will find both wisdom and whimsicality in the lyrics of Peter Waldor and will be inspired to seek their own places where “in the valley the artists/must be painting cherry blossoms again…where Nature’s rasp never stops/ rounding the edge.” This poet’s perceptive eye and deeply meditative mind introduce poetry lovers to a voice that brings welcome revelations about the beauty of the natural world and about living in the Now.
Pinyon’s editor and publisher, Gary Entsminger, publishes a variety of award-winning poets and writers, and Waldor is among this tribe –he was a finalist for the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. His work has been featured in numerous literary journals, including The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, the Iowa Review, Pinyon Review, Colorado Review, and other poetry publications. He works in the insurance business and lives in northern New Jersey and Telluride, Colorado.
The Wilderness Poetry of Wu Xing can be ordered from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, Colorado 81403.


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