[R-G] Dale Jacobson's New Collection: Metamorphoses of the Sleeping Beast
hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Tue Oct 28 07:19:31 MDT 2008
Dale Jacobson, my old somewhat reclusive but always activist companero at the University of North Dakota and much more, has climbed high yet again.
The creative process has always seemed to me to be a universally lonely trail. One of my clearest memories of my father, a gifted fine artist, involves his painting while sitting in the midst of our oft-wild and turbulent household, eyes half closed and most of him at that point in an entirely removed dimension -- while another part of him transposed that which he saw and felt onto canvas. But his good works always had, in the final analysis, a directive point, humanist in ethos drawn from his long associations with important components of the human family. And he was always cognizant of the omnipresent context and ultimate primacy of the natural world and Cosmos.
As I see it, this also holds true, with whatever individual variants, for good poetry, good literature, good journalism.
Our several closely related discussion lists are fortunate to have solid examples of all of these.
We have some fine poets in our corral. Sam Friedman has quite recently issued yet another book, Making the World Anew. It can be obtained for $25 (plus any shipping fees) from Amazon, or Hamilton Books or from sam4wp at netscape.net .
Alice M. Azure has recently put forth, In Mi'kmaq Country: Selected Poems & Stories, Albatross Press [Chicago and Guelph.] It is 78 pages of poetry and prose, plus an Introduction by Professor Terry Straus, Chicago; and Notes; and a page of interesting photos. Available from Alice via Speelya at aol.com .
And now, Dale Jacobson of Minnesota and North Dakota, has come with another splendid collection of his works: Metamorphoses of the Sleeping Beast. It's an attractive book with sixty plus poems -- all of this finely tuned and honed radical stuff -- plus a full and nicely done introduction by Scott King of Northfield, MN. Available from Red Dragonfly Press, Box 406, Red Wing, MN 55066. Dale's e address is dalejacobson at earthlink.net .
The book is divided into three quite interrelated sections: Talking with the Keeper of Nightmares, Hands Lifted in the Sun, Punctual Eternities.
In the first, Nightmares, this caught my own oft-blacklisted Ishmaelite eye immediately: Upon Not Being Invited To Read On That "Common Ground" -- and this promise therein:
"But one day I'll walk through those
great doors: arrive in the middle of
some fancy fable like a trespasser
in my own back yard -- and among
those academics carry a dead bleeding
rabbit and thump it down with the sound
of a mute thing falling hard upon
my own long-loved unforgiving ground --
the way the poor learn despair -- and say:
"Until you see its gentle huge eyes glow
black and fierce, and its shape rise
like a ragged nightmare bird
from the center of Lake Marshall
with moonlight like phosphorous burning
on its wings, whatever you say
about this ground: is a goddamned lie."
Hands Lifted contains intricately done reflections on unique and positive human beings with whom Dale has had much contact. They range, among others, from Lilly Francis, a part-Choctaw psychic from Pearl River County, MS and a great English teacher at UND and a great human being -- to the radical poet, Tom McGrath, a long-time associate of Dale's; and to another close friend of his, the Left writer Meridel LeSueur. [And well, yes, I'm honored to be in there as well.]
Punctual Eternities continues Dale's radical perspective: is rooted in Nature, reflective, optimistic. Its final piece, Songs Of The Seasons, carries this as the conclusion:
"Mourning doves, crows and sparrows:
winds of song make public the brooding soil.
And we open doors, speak and build
what light we can, dreamers of the earth's dream:
metamorphoses of the sleeping beast."
Dale Jacobson's work sensitively delineates and feathers out the vitally human dimensions of individuals, communities, issues, struggle, hope. He provides Life and Optimism -- in addition to Insight and Courage. Without becoming entangled in spider webs of intricate "ideology," he consistently remains a visionary radical in the best American and Human traditions. His is the "oak wood fire" that burns long indeed -- into the future and far beyond.
I miss the days when he and I -- and sometimes a few others -- would get together at Hardees's in Grand Forks, ND to talk about radical creative works, what the hell was going wrong at the University of North Dakota, and the myriad of racial and class injustices in the Northern Plains and far beyond.
We always left those sessions committed to Keep Fighting.
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
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