Ice Mountain now available for preorder

cover of Ice Mountain
Publication of Ice Mountain is less than two months away! It now has a page on the publisher’s website, where you can admire Beth Adams’ beautiful cover illustration, read the book description and the blurbs kindly provided by two good friends, poet Todd Davis and environmental activist extraordinaire Laura Jackson, and even go crazy and order the book at the lower pre-publication price. But if, like me, you’re the discriminating sort of buyer who likes to sample first, here’s an excerpt from the book.


11 February

the crest of Ice Mountain
once harbored a rare scrub barrens
ancient trees made wayward by the wind

as I start up the ridge my tired knees
make quiet popping noises
with every step

Sancho I say to myself
those windmills aren’t giants
they’re flowers for the dead


12 February

the squirrel’s tracks end
in a smudge of blood on the snow
one tuft of fur

and the long furrow
its dangling tail drew
beside the fox’s footprints

in the field a bulldozer
lowers its blade
to a white and heavy harvest


13 February

the spruce grove
at the top of the hollow
harbors a north-woods chill

seated on a runner sled
I hurtle down
into the sunlit field

my shadow like a witching rod
stretched out before me
alive to every swell and swale


14 February

it snowed all night
I dreamt an opossum slept between us
with its death-head grin

by first light
the old dog statue in the yard
is buried up to its neck

let’s get a bowl of fresh snow
not to eat but just to admire
like cut flowers


15 February

a cottontail has squeezed
through a ring of fencing
to browse on dogwood sprouts

the snow squeaks under my boots
as I loom up
and it forgets how to escape

the small animal
beating against its cage
like a panicked heart

*

(UPDATE) Here’s the video trailer by Marc Neys AKA Swoon:

*

Beth’s print for the cover is titled Porcupine Tree, and it’s based on an actual tree up on the ridge that’s long been home — and food — for a series of porcupines, an animal with which I feel a certain affinity. Here’s how it looked ten years ago:

porcupine tree

“Anatomy” made into a short film by Marie Craven

I’ve long admired the videopoetry of Marie Craven, so I was delighted the other day when she unveiled a new film she’d made with one of my Pepys erasure project poems:


Marie has just written a bit about her process in a blog post, where she says (in part):

A track called ‘Red Blood‘, from Adi Carter, is the music here. I’ve known Adi online since 2007 and we’ve collaborated many times musically in the past. His music has also featured on two other video poems I’ve put together: ‘Sometimes the Water‘ and ‘Transmission‘. For the visuals in the ‘Anatomy’ video, I went to the albums of Double-M, at Flickr, where many vintage images are available on a Creative Commons remix licence. I selected a group of illustrations on human anatomy by Elisa Schorn circa 1900. They are ‘animated’ in the video roughly 10 frames at a time, in rhythm with the music. I decided to present the poem as a stream of single words on the screen, in a slower rhythmic flow than the images. This resolves into a full presentation of the written piece at the end, with its original formatting, as on the page. So pleased to have made this one, and especially that both Dave and Adi are happy with it too.

There have been some interesting reactions on Facebook and at Via Negativa. I liked this comment from Jean Morris:

So cool – I love this! Gorgeous graphics, and one word at a time seems so right for an erasure poem, referencing the writing process, whilst not fragmenting the poem.

And this observation by Dylan Tweney encapsulated my reaction as well:

This video is a fantastic experience. Something really strange happens as I try to concentrate on the words while also attempting to take in the anatomical paintings flashing behind them. The anatomies become very surreal and weird in my peripheral vision somehow. Meanwhile each word takes on a strange weight and an unusual resonance. I love it!

As I said at Via Negativa, I feel that this is one of the best things that can happen to a poet — way more exciting than merely placing a poem in a magazine somewhere. Anatomy went straight into my Plummer’s Hollow Poet channel on Vimeo (which also includes Marie’s earlier native land remix of a linked-verse videopoem I’d made).

New book “Ice Mountain” due out in January from Phoenicia Publishing

I’m excited to have a new book of poetry coming out from Montreal-based Phoenicia Publishing, who also published my Odes to Tools. Here’s the announcement.

Phoenicia is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication (January 2017) of Dave Bonta’s Ice Mountain: An Elegy.

After several weeks of daily walks in the Pennsylvania mountains with a temporary canine visitor, Dave began a new series of poems:

“I decided to see how much I could discover on my own, walking at a much slower pace but without the aid of a dog’s nose to show me where a coyote had paused or which hollow logs might harbor rabbits or porcupines. The exploration continued when I sat down at the laptop, and I often ended up writing about things I’d remembered or thought about as I walked.”

But there was a darker side, too. The Ice Mountain of the title is a nearby peak that was desecrated by a large wind farm, after a six-year struggle to fight it by local environmental groups who knew the turbines would have a huge impact on bats, songbirds, migrating hawks, and other species. Written as winter gives way to spring, the resulting short, daily poems are an elegy for an endangered ecosystem, as well as a celebration of its diversity and determination.

Ice Mountain will also have original linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Adams. Sales will benefit the environmental non-profit organization SOAR, Save Our Allegheny Ridges.

Click through for a delightful photo (excerpted above) by Rachel Rawlins of me falling through the ice on top of our mountain while the dog looks on with ears raised, as well as an example of Beth’s beautiful linocut technique. And be sure to subscribe to the Phoenicia newsletter for regular updates on all their publications.

Poetry featured in new films by Swoon and Alastair Cook

still from The Grave Dug by Beasts

Among the greatest honors a poet can enjoy is to have his or her words adapted or remixed by other artists. As a guy who’s stumbled into publishing what’s become the most prominent English-language blog on poetry film and videopoetry, it’s perhaps not too surprising that I’ve gotten to know some of the best poetry filmmakers working today, who, knowing that I’m a half-decent poet and that I “copyleft” everything I write under the Creative Commons, occasionally use some of my own texts in their films. This is never something I ask for, not wanting to abuse my power as an editor, but it’s always wonderful when it happens, as it has recently with three new films by two of the most imaginative makers of poetry films out there. I’ve already blogged about the first two, by the Belgian artist Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, at Via Negativa, so I’ll just embed those films and link to their respective VN posts.

1. Hit the Lights

See “The conversation continues: two videopoems.”

2. The Grave Dug by Beasts

See “The Grave Dug by Beasts: a new videopoem by Swoon.”

3. Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared)

I only contributed 1/20th of the text to this collaborative, ekphrastic magnum opus by Alastair Cook, but I’m chuffed to have my lines rubbing up against the lines of such truly great poets as George Szirtes, John Glenday, Linda France and Andrew Philip. The process involved Alastair sending a snippet of found film to each of us to elicit a brief, free-verse response without seeing any of the other poets’ responses. Alastair came up with the concept and title and did all the weaving together, and is therefore the main poet here in my opinion. Kudos to everyone involved and to Alastair’s Filmpoem project for continuing to grow and flourish.

My lines, for what it’s worth, are these:

We go on civilizing missions into the past:
remaster the sound, restore the color,
and reduce to scenery the land through which we progress.

Alastair edited out a couple of the lines in my original submission to very good effect. As I say, he is the real poet here; the film is a true filmpoem (or videopoem, as we tend to say on this side of the Atlantic), the text and footage forming a unity greater than the sum of their parts.

To watch more films with my poetry in them, check out the Plummer’s Hollow Poet channel on Vimeo. It’s up to 58 videos now (though the majority are ones I’ve made myself).