Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Friday, December 7, 2007

Walt McDonald: "The Winter They Bombed Pearl Harbor"

In early January 1942, as the American home front prepared for the difficulties and personal sacrifices involved with war, posters calling for all to unite with a common cause quickly began to be displayed across the United States. Most government sponsored posters urged acting upon a renewed patriotism, though some sought vengeance and at times even may have appeared to appeal to racist notions of the Japanese in purely blatant propaganda pieces. One of the earliest of the poster maker's art accompanies this post: “Remember Dec. 7th!”

The illustration pictured here—with its powerful words (“ . . . we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . .”) quoted from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and positioned above a battle tattered flag at half mast as well as the billowing smoke associated with newsreel images of U.S. naval ships destroyed during the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor—was designed during the nation’s darkest days. In that period most citizens were still suffering through a state of shock in the immediate aftermath of the horrors read in local newspaper articles or heard from accounts on radio. Perhaps the country’s collective mood and the intensity of individuals’ emotional reactions at that time have not quite been felt in the same way since then except for the period following September 11, 2001.

In fact, one might find an interesting parallel could be drawn not only between various reactions to the two events, but also with the way the days of the attacks were at first labeled by most people and in the media. Initial illustrations, editorial cartoons, and posters rallying the nation in the wake of the news from Pearl Harbor simply spoke of the incident in terms of the date: “December 7th.” As soon as the war effort moved forward, however, the day popularly became known as “Pearl Harbor Day,” a term still normally employed today, while references to the 9/11 attacks continue to carry the date for identification.

On this December 7th in commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, I am pleased to present Walt McDonald’s “The Winter They Bombed Pearl Harbor,” which also happened to be the first poem published in the initial issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review (Volume I, Number 1: Fall/Winter 1999-2000).


All winter peacocks screamed, strutting the same
slow pose. At dawn, we smashed the ice with hammers,
dumped pots of boiling water steaming into troughs
for beaks of preening peacocks. They shoved each other off
like cousins bunched at the only mirror at church.

My logger father whittled a forest with buzz saws,
the roar and buzz of steel and mosquitoes
more than my ears were tuned for.
My sister and I played keep-away with feathers,
dazzling the surly turkeys and peacocks with footwork,

lobbing frozen dirt clods like grenades,
until our father called us. When roads were frozen,
I jockeyed the throttle of a John Deere
rusted before the war, hauling logs and hay bales
to farmers miles away. The war was almost lost

when my father enlisted, Pearl Harbor bombed,
the fall of Bataan all we heard for hours
on every station at night, except for our parents
talking softly after bedtime
and peacocks screaming in the dark.

Walt McDonald has published twenty-two collections of poems and a book of fiction, including Faith Is a Radical Master (Abilene Christian University Press, 2005), Climbing the Divide (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), All Occasions (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), Blessings the Body Gave (Ohio State University Press, 1998), Counting Survivors (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995), and Night Landings (Harper & Row, 1989). His poetry also has appeared in numerous journals, including American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Atlantic Monthly, First Things, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Poetry, Sewanee Review, and Southern Review.

McDonald was an Air Force pilot, taught at the Air Force Academy, and served as Texas Poet Laureate in 2001. In May 2002, he retired from Texas Tech University as Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of English and Poet in Residence. When Walt McDonald appeared as the featured poet in Valparaiso Poetry Review’s debut issue, he also contributed an essay of practical advice for beginning poets, “Advice I Wish I’d Been Told.”

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