A Bow from My Shadow is a series of poems in dialogue. Miller’s poems alternate with Irwin’s, forming a call and response of poetic contemplation. Perennial issues such as the digitization of experience, exhaustion, nature, and the connection between vanity and violence, carry its readers consciously through a creative process. Each poem can be read independently, though many echo one another, take unction with an opinion, poke fun at, or affirm. The authors achieve fresh collaborative writing.
Luke Irwin is a staff writer with The Curator. His stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Anobium, The Curator, Pif Magazine, Long Poem Magazine, and The Denver Syntax. He lives in St. Louis.
Alex Miller, Jr. is a staff writer with The Curator and North Shore Art*Throb magazine. His poetry has appeared in Pif Magazine, Create Here, and is forthcoming in Lake Effect. He is an Adjunct Professor of the Humanities at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and a teacher of high school English and Rhetoric. He lives with his wife in Beverly, Massachusetts. John Skillen, Ph.D. is Professor of English at Gordon College, and was the medieval-Renaissance literature expert for many years before starting the College’s arts-oriented semester program in Orvieto, Italy. After directing the program for a decade – which includes regular courses in the ekphrastic tradition of writing poetry about art – he now oversees all the College’s programs in Europe.
A native New Englander, Bruce Guernsey is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University where he taught for twenty-five years. He has also taught at William and Mary, Johns Hopkins, and Virginia Wesleyan where he was Poet in Residence for four years. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, and many of the quarterlies. His four collections and seven chapbooks include January Thaw from the University of Pittsburgh Press and, most recently, New England Primer from Cherry Grove/WordTech. He is a former editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the MacDowell Colony, and the Illinois Arts Council, Guernsey has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Poetry in Portugal and Greece. He has also twice sailed around the world as a faculty member with Semester at Sea. He and his wife, the artist/jeweler Victoria Woollen-Danner, divide their time between their homes in Charleston, Illinois and Bethel, Maine. Together, they have five children and four granddaughters. Read an interview with Bruce Guernsey in IthacaLit.com here.
From Rain: Poems, 1970 – 2010
From Annabelle Moseley:
I read From Rain from cover to cover. I’m so glad I did–it unfolded like an epic. This is one of the best contemporary books of poetry I have read in a long time. Often, in a collection of poems by one poet, even a fine poet, one encounters ho-hum poems among the jewels. In the case of From Rain, I found each poem to be a jewel. Bruce Guernsey’s images are consistently vivid, fresh and surprising. Part One has subjects, images and language reminiscent of Frost, but in Guernsey’s unique voice. “The Apple,” is a particular favorite to read aloud. “Splitting Wood” and “Stones” are two other standouts. Part Two is profound and compelling. Guernsey writes of personal pain in a way that is archetypal and universal. The reader can attach his or her own loss to the touchstones of Guernsey’s words. “The Search,” and “The Passing” are two unforgettable poems. Guernsey also has a startling ability to blend the humorous with the profound. In Part Three a standout is “Weatherstripping,” with its surprising image of the snowman. There is also a theme in Guernsey’s work of “strange language,” – appearing in “Long Distance,” “Timetable,” even in “North,” how “nouns are skin and bone/ for verbs to gnaw on.” Part Four is evocative and brave– gems like “For My Wife, Cutting My Hair,” “January Thaw,” and the collection’s title poem. This is a collection to be re-read and treasured. Annabelle Moseley, founder and editor of String Poet, an online literary journal of poetry and the arts, and the host of The New York Times-featured String Poet Studio Series at the Long Island Violin Shop.
From Claudia Emerson
Bruce Guernsey’s From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010 contains work from the poet’s four books and seven chapbooks, as well as new and uncollected poems—the volume abundant in lessons crafted within the contexts of family, of nature, and of the world at war. Guernsey remains keenly aware of the shifting place of the self within these various, volatile worlds, and, while understanding that all can “vanish at the flash of a shadow,” he never loses the capacity for seeing “the glass pure sky” of love and joy. From Rain is finally a beautifully mortised, cohesive whole, the collection very much like “this paper you touch, a metaphor for earth.” This truly is an amazing collection. Claudia Emerson Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
From D. Nurkse
Bruce Guernsey’s new collection From Rain is a treasure. As in the great rural poets–Issa, John Clare–the relationship to nature in Guernsey’s work is more visceral than aesthetic, charged as the air between lovers. Guernsey is a compression expert who can shoehorn a lifetime into a line in “Oatmeal” or channel the cycle of generations in a stanza in “The Well:” “. . . the dark stream where the dead kneel/cupping their pale hands,/splashing the stillness from their eyes.//I drop a stone in ours to hear/if there’s water for the children’s bath…” This is writing that braids lyric and epic. Guernsey’s natural world, like John Haines’ wilderness, is the locus of history, not an escape from it. “Doug” is a remarkable exploration of the price of war. Unlike most “collected poems,” From Rain has an arc, character investigation, and a through-line; it’s authoritative work from an important poet. D. Nurkse Guggenheim Fellow and Professor of Writing at Sarah Lawrence
From Robert Gerst
These are wonderful, fabulous poems by a poet worthy of the greatest praise. A sheer joy. Apples from the Tree of Life. Just speaking, Bruce Guernsey is already singing. Do not miss this book. Robert Gerst, Professor and Chair of the Liberal Arts Department Massachusetts College of Art and Design
From Sheryl St. Germain
These haunting, exquisitely crafted poems navigate the troubled waters of the human spirit. Guernsey’s arresting lyrics offer bold, fresh metaphors that, like lighthouses, illuminate our most intimate seas. Sheryl St. Germain, Director, MFA Program, Chatham University