Phoenicia Publishing, 2017.
132 pages, 6″ x 9″, paperback, with illustrations by Elizabeth Adams
Exact digital copy of printed edition with full formatting of all poems, direct from publisher, downloadable PDF $8.95
A poetic diary of linked verses chronicling the slow end of winter in a warming world.
Aldo Leopold once observed that “one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” In Ice Mountain: An Elegy, poet and naturalist Dave Bonta invites us to share this solitude. In spare, linked verses informed by decades of close study of his home ground, he chronicles the slow end of winter on a mountaintop in central Pennsylvania, part of a landscape subtly but profoundly shaped by the last Ice Age. With climate change accelerating, how many more years will we get to appreciate a true Appalachian spring?
But our ham-fisted efforts to address global warming also come with a price, and Bonta laments the damage done by installing a wind plant on the neighboring ridge—Ice Mountain. Looking both inward and outward, this is a poetry too honest to take refuge in easy solutions but too much in love with the world to indulge in despair.
The 132-page book includes illustrations from original linocuts by Elizabeth Adams, and is beautifully printed with a heavy, matte-varnished cover. Ten percent of the proceeds from all sales will benefit local and regional conservation efforts in central Pennsylvania.
“Dave Bonta asks in Ice Mountain: An Elegy, ‘What else have I failed to notice?’ And like the best elegies, it’s in Bonta’s close, daily observations that we are instructed in what still remains and what has gone missing. With spare language and his instinctive use of metaphor, Bonta demonstrates a consciousness willing to do battle with those who have, as he writes, pinned down Ice Mountain ‘with turbines / like a felled mammoth / the spears still quivering.’ We should be thankful for such poems that remind us of the precious offering the world makes. I can’t think of anything better to do this winter than to follow this poet’s counsel and ‘get a bowl of fresh snow / not to eat but just to admire / like cut flowers.'”
—Todd Davis, author of Winterkill and In the Kingdom of the Ditch
“Bonta’s sparse lines mimic the stark realities of a season that tests the survival of its inhabitants, ‘the opossum out at mid-day,’ or the rhododendron leaves ‘stripped / by starving deer.’ This rich and complex forest is in direct contrast with the paucity of life on Ice Mountain under the turbines, which he aptly calls ‘flowers for the dead.’ Ice Mountain may be lost, but Bonta’s poems provide inspiration to protect other mountains and their inhabitants.”
—Laura Jackson, President of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, a non-profit devoted to protecting Pennsylvania’s forested mountains from industrial development
Trailer by Marc Neys
Includes a collage of lines from throughout the book.
Other short films based on the book
25 January by Marie Craven
26 January by James Brush
7 March by Marie Craven
Album based on the book
Ice Mountain: Released August 18, 2017. All recordings, sounds, instruments, synths and tape treats by Marc Neys (aka Swoon). Additional field recordings by Vladimir Kryuchev. Voices by Dave Bonta, Bruce Bonta, Marcia Bonta and Esmée Sherrill. Words by Dave Bonta.
“Ice Mountain: an elegy is spare, elegant, and deeply moving.”
—Rachel Barenblat in Velveteen Rabbi
“Dave Bonta has, it seems, an instinct for getting to the heart of things without fuss, for choosing words and creating metaphors that are just right, never showy, and for making a point subtly, without jargon. This collection shows him to be a nature-poet in the great American tradition.”
—Ama Bolton in Barleybooks
“Readers searching for environmental polemic should look elsewhere. Ice Mountain as a collection trades indignation for intimacy. Its poems are awake to the complexities of a nature whose rhythms both govern and respond to human presence. The experience in these poems is a lived experience: one that draws from a deep well of knowledge about the local ecosystem without shying away from the often imperfect ways humans participate in that system.”
—Talley Kayser on WPSU
“In his introduction to Ice Mountain, Dave Bonta compares his poetry to Peanuts, the tendency of Charles Schultz’s comics to pose a dark picture in the first three panels, only to provide relief in the fourth panel. Dave’s poems are each three three-line stanzas—no fourth panel. […] As in any good poetry, the images are all important, and in these slight verses, images pour out at you. This book is so slight that you can read it in one sitting if all you want to do is get through it […] But it shouldn’t be read that way. It should be read like Peanuts. The comic grabs you, or not, each morning. You can recall it and mull over it through the day.”
—Phil Coleman in The Sylvanian [PDF]
“Bonta’s wit, intelligence, and compassion are evident everywhere in the writing of this book, from foreword to poems to helpful notes at the end.”
—Kathleen Kirk at Escape into Life
“His poetry is hauntingly beautiful and cathartic. I wanted to savor every page. Though the book could easily be read in one sitting, it was rewarding to linger and find all the smaller scenes he describes. The long walks and snowy days are a beautiful backdrop for his observations.”
—Jordan Murray on Goodreads
“[A] book of poetry which includes an exploration of the inner and outer markers of this ephemeral, elegant season, when nothing quite happens on a timetable.”
—“Duchesse” at Passage des Perles
“This is a lovely collection, reminiscent of the poetry of Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry. Observant and evocative writing about the coldest, bleakest months of the year. These poems help rekindle a reader’s love and respect for the Earth, our home. I also appreciated the beautiful woodcuts.”
—Vasiliki Katsarou, Amazon customer review
2017 Banff Mountain Book Competition: finalist, Mountain Fiction & Poetry category [PDF]