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

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Autism and Poetry

The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared April 2 as World Autism Day beginning in 2008. In the United States, April also represents Autism Awareness Month. Since this coincides with National Poetry Month, I felt the following poem would provide complementary recognition of both poetry and the increasing epidemic of autism. Ten years ago autism struck 1 in 10,000 children; today 1 in less than 150 children may be diagnosed with the disorder, and a conservative estimate suggests 35 million people worldwide are autistic. In the foreword to her book, Changing the Course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians, Katie Wright concludes that every 20 minutes another family is confronted by the discovery of autism in a child.


He held mussel shells—indigo blue inside and black
on back—or those round pebbles he had

found rolling like dark marbles in the tidewater
wash, as if he had a handful of hard candy.

The wind’s speed picked up, the sea shining behind
him, each wave displayed like a crinkled

sheet of tinfoil unfurled under that day’s final
splay of sunlight. Every one of our son’s

uneasy steps at the ocean’s edge left an impression,
still refilling with water—even as I witness

it now, in midwinter three years later. We could
not have known then to watch for the few

symptoms we would soon learn to view with fear.
Even those little hints we missed, a lack

of balance whenever he would lean to lift another
stick of driftwood, as if the shoreline’s

slant had suddenly become too steep, or the tipped
head and sideways glance he’d give us,

though we thought he only wanted reassurance,
were never seen as dubious sorts of acts

that ought to indicate a reason to have misgivings.
But to the two of us, now so suspicious,

feeling guilt, every unsure move that camera caught
appears to be uninvestigated evidence left

behind, even in this scene when the tape runs to its end.
He sits on the sand, back toward the shore,

counting out his collection of shells in a single file,
as if pretending every one of them were part

of some private treasure, the way anyone might
arrange family keepsakes, jewels or gems

kept as heirlooms somewhere in a darkened drawer,
brought out for comfort in a time of grief.

[“Autism: Seeking Inklings in an Old Video” appeared as part of a sequence of poems, “Whole Notes and Half Tones: Songs for My Son,” in my collection, Tidal Air, published by Pecan Grove Press in 2002.]

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