At last, selected poems from renowned local poet James DenBoer, and in a fine edition from Davis-based Swan Scythe Press. Stonework: Selected Poems is a true selection, with poems from each of DenBoer’s published collections, arranged thematically.
DenBoer’s poems shine, with close ties to the natural world and a welcome Western sensibility. Even those poems that are not set in the West take their images from that most articulate of sources, the natural world. And, as many of the area’s poets do, most notably Gary Snyder, DenBoer takes a long, geologic view of the world. For instance, in “Turitellas,” DenBoer meditates on a fossil find on his fire road: “Their last fire lifted a ridge / from Santa Ynez to Montecito.”
And in “Lost in Blue Canyon,” DenBoer invokes a desire, common to those of us who’ve come to love the landscape as dearly as we love language, to begin anew in the wild: “… and if I am lost in Blue Canyon / That is where I will found myself, / Taking what is given, and come to say: / Blue Canyon is the world as it is for me.”
This collection gives us the best of DenBoer, no doubt, but also measures up to the high standard we’ve come to expect from poets of the West. It is a truly welcome addition to that body of work.