“A journey by raft down the Copper River becomes the source of this meditative poem set in the Alaska wilderness and against the backdrop of the Iraq War. Kabir is the poet’s interior companion, lively and loquacious, prodding him to acknowledge 'a past / that had lost its way' and a present in which personal loss and political deceit may be tempered with 'this shifty world’s profane embrace.' Kabir says, 'This world… / springs / out of one word and everything / inside that word is full of light.' This poem by one of our finest poets draws upon such incandescent, creation-laden words to reveal the “authentic wilderness' that flourishes within us and, yes, without us. River of Light dazzles with the pure pleasure of its passage.”
(Michael Waters, author of Gospel Night and editor of Contemporary American Poetr)
“I love the complexity of experience and voice in River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir. So many layers here—the narrator's experiences on the river trip, Kabir's voice, other folks on the river trip, the war(s) close by and far away, and memories of other places and trips. Most impressive! The free verse lines are spot-on, capturing both the flow and the layering of the journey's breath-taking moments, interactions with others and the natural world, and those sometimes long stretches of time during which the mind wanders wonderfully.”
(Christianne Balk, author of Bindweed and Desiring Flight)
“River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir is a book-length poem that takes readers on a weeklong raft trip down a river in southcentral Alaska. Bears, eagles, moose, seals, otters, and salmon inhabit the poem’s world, and the landscapes shift between glaciers, mountains, rapids, and waterfalls.”
“River of Light takes readers down the Copper River in the company of masters. . . . [Woodward’s] artwork is a riot of subtlety. Only someone in full command of his or her powers could fashion this. The paintings and drawings are well-suited to Morgan’s writing, which also exudes subtlety. Employing understatement and a minimum of words, he does the work of a truly skilled poet, leaving most of the page empty so the reader can fill it in. It’s easy to see why he and Woodward have collaborated. Their approaches are greatly complementary, and one hopes this will be the first of more joint ventures.”
About the Author
John Morgan has published four earlier books of poetry and, most recently, a collection of essays called Forms of Feeling: Poetry in Our Lives. He was the first writer-in-residence at Denali National Park. He lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Bellingham, Washington. Kesler Woodward is professor of art emeritus from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is the author of six books, most recently Painting Alaska. He lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.