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Map Home Paperback – May 3, 2013
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About the Author
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Amid the yellow gorse, which pricked my jeans,
and purple foxgloves and bluebells--
puddles of hoofprints,
the footpaths in places trampled to mire--
and not a horse to be seen.
Even when I reached the granite tor,
and the green high moor with its boulders,
swept by the wet benumbing wind from seaward,
widened before me, none to be seen.
The Anglo-Saxon-rooted diction makes this example shine and urges an almost synesthesiac experience in me--or at least a experience that transplants me into the the world of the words. This level of sonic mastery is consistent throughout the book. There are no dismissive anecdotes or empty ironies here, no mere transcriptions of the quotidian. These are poems that amplify the spirit, what poetry should do.
Havird's range is also an aspect of his work to which I aspire. Integrating classic figures into his new mythmaking, as well as offering portraits of his wife, Havird's vast intelligence is on display, wholly permeable and somehow becalming. Ultimately, the reader is swept along into the myth and taken many places, such that the world of the book becomes, as James Dickey said, "realer than real." It is a curative journey, one both expansive and intimate, one that creates a powerful and lasting impression. Highly, highly recommended.
I purchased Map Home when it came out in anticipation of what I would find. As he says in his bio, David, isn't a "prolific poet", but that makes the wait for his new work all the more exciting. For me, Map Home is a beautiful, intricately-crafted travel journal. The poetry takes you through markets in Greece, paths through England, and haunts closer to home. Some of my favorite poems are set in Sonoma California at the house of Jack London. I love the dreamy visions in "Through Romsdal Fjord to Wolf House" mixing the stark reality of sleeping in the old house in a sleeping bag while the mind wanders to other lands connected together in the poem. "Late Thaw" also has one of my favorite lines in the book as well:
It looks as if we've climbed in our thick skin
out of our souls as ghosts in movies step
with legs of mist from bodies, salt-sown wounds,
that sweated out their death, like love, in bed.
The poems in Map Home are not a "quick read". They are poems that you have to read once; find your bearing; and then read again (preferably aloud) to hear the rhythm of the lines and appreciate the complexity of the subject.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the poet’s skilled use of dry humor, pathos, and pure amazement at the natural world, to balance the muck of life—its messiness—with the sublime. You might find your feet traveling with the poet’s in manure—the “sluggish river of dung” of Shropshire—while your eyes with his find “pulsations of starlight” in Dorset. David Havird deserves congratulations for this soul-stirring collection.
These aren't those poems. MAP HOME from David Havird (a professor of mine many years ago) is a book of poems -- some from The New Yorker and Poetry magazine -- that looks at various places around the globe and through history, but has its vision in the human heart, the soul, that part of you that we need our poetry to consider. This is the type of poetry that FEELS like a poem, like something worthwhile. And, yet, it's the sort of writing you can learn from, not just about being human -- but about writing your own stories. The way the language moves in these poems is wonderful.
If you like to read and write -- hell, if you like to breathe -- you'll be impacted by the beauty in this book.