General Non-Fiction posted January 4, 2021


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700+ word review of Poems: Walking Home by Starlight

Poetry Book Review

by CrystieCookie999


     Poet Quentin R. Kirk self-published a collection of poetry called Poems: Walking Home By Starlight in 2003. Because I was impressed by his poems on fanstory.com (user name here is Judd7), I purchased it for $17.35 on ebay. The cover is black and glossy, with the hint of an Impressionistic sunset behind three sparse pines on a mountainous crag. There are an incredible 150 poems, with the majority having a setting in Mexico. His specialty is free verse with some naturally occurring internal rhymes and assonance in general: "a long drawn eagle's cry," or carefully crafted alliteration: "Evening on the mountain deepened into dusk." A few poems deal with life in Chicago, Illinois--mainly with the subject of a couple of past loves, or else some like "Sack of Nails," a story of a sack of nails left secretly by a carpenter finishing his mother's house in Clay County. But the majority of this book's poetic jewels are centered like warm-hearted star-candles in a respectful and often reverential pattern of fine flickering to illuminate the people and places he has known in Mexico, from young to old.

     When Kirk addresses the subject of mountains, delightfully personified poems like "Weeds and Tiny Perfect Fingers" result. Here the Sierra Madre peaks "cruise low, become almost touchable, churn mysteriously, hurried like the Indian women" who are most involved in daily tasks among adobe huts scattered below in the shadows of those mountains. The mountains are powerful, giving "birth to capillaries of springs and rivers, cast up legends, deities, and broken pottery" in the passing of seasons.

     When Kirk expresses poetic details about people, they might be as personal as feelings of admiration in "Remember the Woman," about his wife, Blanca, "who saved winged maple seeds in plastic bags,/hoping to drop blessings on Mexico," or noting: "This road, where I first held Blanca's hand, cast a long spell over many years and dreams that followed" from "Spirit Places." His tone is usually one of appreciation and enthusiasm, but he can write of feeling unwelcome in an empty church with no other people in attendance, where a priest seems disinterested in welcoming someone new. But mostly Mr. Kirk expresses delight, especially with the creativity and friendliness of children, as he reflects in "School Teaching" on how his career of teaching will go with his students "and pass invisibly to their children/losing its origin and mixing/long after I am gone," and expressing a feeling that "something holy did happen this year" in their way of thanking an educator who led them through literary classics.

     Kirk finds his best inspiration from interacting with people, and when he must take a flight on a "very shiny, new, defiant looking mid-sized plane" which "radiated its magical powers," he is sure that flying in such "an overwhelming burst of silent energy/an epiphany of power/from no observable source" which "rose, transfigured...godlike!" and "miniaturized everything outside its windows" is something that marks him and the other passengers as possessing a "profound lack of reverence" in flying over "real people" and "their lives, their wild flowers, and holy silences...their dreams/their stories, sorrows" and becomes something he asks forgiveness for, plainly.

     But on the ground, Kirk captures in-the-moment details in poems like "Love on the Mountain," such as a Mexican Indian couple "standing in bird and insect sounds/balancing huge stalks of bananas/on bare shoulders" as the fruits are "loaded beside us/with ballet gracefulness--/brief, quiet words in Tzotzil" and how Kirk studies them "like a man who sees stars, or flowers, or a sunset for the first time." Kirk is also positive that "Old women and old men can be beautiful" and "A dance may be more real than a bridge, a road and smiling eyes may outweigh all soldiers, marching" ("Playing My Harmonica in a Mall").

     He may note differences between the Catholic faith of his wife and his Quaker faith, but he is more positive he can see God dancing "with a child in each arm" away from formal churches or universities or assembly halls, or in "tall prairie grass with bull snakes, blackbirds and burdock" where weeds were plentiful ("They"). Even with a few typographical errors, his book is full of perceptive observations and deserves re-reading.



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Thanks to cleo85 for the use of her colorful still life. I was not sure if the poet wanted his book cover included here. It may be updated later.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by cleo85 at FanArtReview.com

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