Dave Wood's Book Report, March 5, 2008
After making international news with its book "The Artist's Brush," Mid-List Press, the not-for-profit publisher in Minneapolis, is out with a new book, the winner of its annual First Series Award for Poetry.
The poet is Norman Minnick, coordinator of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series at Butler University in Indianapolis.
"To Taste the Water" ($13) is a well-crafted book that, among other things, explores the relationship of the poet to the people and places around him.
Most impressive to me was his touching relationship with his little daughter. Here's a sampling:
Give a child
paper and crayons
and she will recreate the world.
Do you know why
she comes into your room at night
complaining she is thirsty?
Why she can't sleep?
She has tried to write her name, to draw
an ocean, but keeps encountering
the edge of the page.
Tell her the sky
is meant for her.
Tell her the clouds
are to drink from.
Tell her the story
of a husband and wife
who sailed beyond the horizon
only to find another horizon, and beyond that...
Let her hear the waves
lapping at the side of the boat.
Let her feel the rocking motion.
Let her know
that steadiness is essential
as Holderin says, that we need
to learn to live swaying
as in a rocking boat
on the sea.
Here's another, truly sweet:
by her inverse image
in the curve of the spoon,
turns it over and back
and over again,
and back again,
right side up,
faster, as if she might
trick the spoon.
Eat, I tell her.
How did an obscure lawyer from central Illinois get where he got? Part of the answer of Abraham Lincoln's success is told with great gusto in
"Lincoln and Douglas," by Allen C. Guelzo (Simon & Schuster, $26).
Guelzo, a professor of history at Gettysburg College tells the story of the great debates between the country lawyer and his formidable opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, "the little giant," on of the most powerful politicians in America during the debates of 1858 in which Lincoln attempted to unseat him.
Lincoln almost made it and two years later was candidate for president on the ticket of the new American political party.
In this election year, books like this should be required reading.
Dave Wood is a past vice president of the National Book Critics Circle and former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.