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Strange Meadowlark: Poems

by Michael Simms

Strange Meadowlark cover

Chard deNiord writes, “Michael Simms writes with the courage of a witness and the wisdom of a survivor. These poems leap, lament, pierce, transcend, delve, witness, praise, and testify to the curative power of poetry.” Simms’s new collection travels through grief, love, social justice, art and nature. The book begins with the poet's return to the Texas evangelical culture of his childhood to attend the funerals of his mother and sister. The poet reveals that he's autistic, a survivor of childhood abuse who didn't speak until he was five years old. The title poem "Strange Meadowlark" riffs on his emergence into language through learning how to listen to jazz.

The second section of the book explores love through the beauty of the Texas landscape in poems that capture the happiness of childhood despite the presence of the ghost of the poet's sister -- as in the poem "White Rock Lake." The third section offers poems of social conscience. Racism, war, poverty, violence and America's unacknowledged caste structure are presented through personal narrative. The final two sections bring together these themes of memory, love, loss and the search for justice in poems that focus on the observation of nature. The long poem "Faye Donnelly explains why the dead are in our lives" is a dialogue with a dying wise woman who explains to the poet how to let go of the ghost of his sister and move on with his life. The final poem "Pupa - a meditation on becoming" is a long poem that attempts to make lyrical sense of the cycles of life and death.

Praise for Strange Meadowlark

These poems present one man’s reckonings with the missteps and right steps, the haunting passions that make up a life. What strikes me especially is how Michael Simms is able to show how permeable a life is, how the traffic between a flesh-and-blood person and the spirit of memory goes both ways and allows for—beyond regret—thanks and forgiveness. The tough tickets we may draw in this world define us but do not necessarily limit us. On the contrary, as this book of poems attests, they can expand us, lead us to feelings that almost soar but—and it is a testament to the poet’s honesty—in the end they don’t, the ground we remain on being terribly real, our fraught nurture and our burying place.
     —Baron Wormser, author of The History Hotel

Strange Meadowlark by Michael Simms
ISBN: 978-1-933974-53-8
$18 each/ all orders to:
Returns to: Red Cedar Distribution


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