Like those of Robert Frost—or Tu Fu—David Guterson’s poems often find transcendence in the natural world, in particular the mountain ranges and island landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. But his sources are many—history, literature, contemporary culture—and what unites this fine debut collection of poetry is not limited to place. It is, instead, an acutely honed awareness, one that takes us from a spent match head’s black thorn to a contemplation of the emptiness of form: “When the last leaf is off the tree / celebrate illusion.”
As is true when David Guterson enriches our lives and literature with memorable stories and essays, he is on these pages a poet acutely, even achingly, aware of the beauty and sometimes absurdity of the natural and unnatural forms that surround us. He is awake to the experience of illusion and impermanence, loneliness and suffering. And always in these well-crafted works, where language performs at its highest level, he is awake to the possibilities of love, gratitude, redemption, and the importance of self-acceptance. With each elegant poem in Songs For A Summons, Guterson liberates our seeing, our senses, and beckons us to live more fully, more authentically, more deeply.
—Dr. Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage
About the Author
David Guterson is the author of the novels East of the Mountains, Our Lady of the Forest, The Other, Ed King, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award; two story collections, The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind and Problems with People (2014); a memoir, Descent; and a book of essays, Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. Songs for a Summons is his first book of poems. He lives in Washington State.
To read a review of David Guterson's Songs for a Summons at BOOKS WORLD, follow this link:
HOLISTIC PRACTITIONER: PSORIASIS
“I sense in your liver too much defensiveness—
as if your skin was a wall made thicker by threat.
Or a curse: when your fear and doubt wax,
they do it at your elbows and knees,
and at those telling spots that add to your disease—
the corner of your eye, snow in your ears,
both of which you feed.
Short sleeves are out, if you want to be petty,
so it’s a reminder, this flame—do you?
Although for long periods you forget you have it.
Benign enough not to shorten your years,
it keeps returning with a message—
that you’re making too much heat
or living on a tangent, working at the wrong job
or running when you might just dream.
In short, met earlier we might have mastered your disease,
but after too many years it’s wrong to hope for that
and therefore you must accept your fate.
Hear—please—what psoriasis means:
That like the rest of us you have to live inside your skin.”