Saturday, September 7, 2013


If the arresting title of Pinyon Publishing’s latest poetry publication, Wires Over the Homeplace by Paul Dickey, doesn’t attract readers, the sharp black and red cover painting entitled “Bold Painting” by Ira Haber will certainly entice poetry lovers to look within. However, readers don’t have to read far for their interest to be captured by poems of energy and variety that introduce a poet who writes at the center of things.
Paul Dickey crosses the boundaries of space and time in the opening section of Wires Over the Homeplace, entitled “Frontier Ancestors,” in the poem by that name, “bearing the full baggage of history, stowing the ancient instruments/that no more predict the future” and moving on to “where the rivers part…” in a late 18th century Pennsylvania frontier, then across the U.S. into the postmodern era. He transports readers into harsh places of the Midwest--at a public auction of the revered family farm and to a scene where “plump and skinny wives crow of granddaughters with money and day jobs in Milwaukee…” reaching out to every generation with his wry style conceived in democratic introspection.
My favorite section, entitled “A Knack to Losing Things,” shows Dickey’s ability to execute a bit of partner poetry in which he dialogues with the deceased American poet Elizabeth Bishop, author of “One Art.” He links himself with Bishop’s lines about significant personal losses with his own lines “What had been lost along the casual way/will not come back to me another day,/and to be frank, it often will not do/to keep a useful thing its use past due…” This “union in identity” carried out by many poets has been explicated in David Lehmann’s preface to The Best of American Poetry, 25th Edition, in which Lehmann explains how poets often “take note of an ancestor, ally, or rival” and begin a dialogue with a deceased poet about a mutually-inspired subject.
Dickey’s philosophical inclination exerts itself in many of the poems included in “The Knack of Losing Things” section; e.g., his “A Thief We Barely Noticed,” a poem with succinct lines about the inevitable journey toward life’s end, penned in metaphors that speak of ordinary household events: “A thief is living with us/tearing threads of wallpaper, pulling threads from the carpet./Every night it is the same./Footprints wear the linoleum./Luster is stolen from the silverware…”
In the section “We Never Know,” Dickey confronts aging, writing poems that are so poignant they cannot be dismissed by those who have reached the evening of their lives; e.g., “A Retiree Ponders His Day,” in which Dickey ponders his “morning of many rooms” and likens his life to a phonograph needle, listening to the “scratches, hisses, the pops that even now sound like the many years of himself…” These metaphors are woven into poems of sustained power throughout the section and affirm Dickey’s poetic strength in illuminating ordinary objects and people so that readers easily connect with his vision.
Dickey belongs among the Best of American Poets, and Wires Over the Homeplace is a significant work of contemporary poetry – each poem in the volume is a polished gem. He adds another star to Pinyon’s galaxy of outstanding American poets. Dickey is a poetry and philosophy instructor in Omaha, Nebraska and has published poetry book reviews, poetry, fiction, plays, and creative non-fiction in over 100 journals. His recent books include They Say This is How Death Came Into the World and Liberal Limericks of 2012, a collection of humorous political poems.

Order Wires Over the Homeplace from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403.

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