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, May 5, 2010

Commentary on "Moonlight in the City"

I have been informed that Frank Wilson—the longtime book-review editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer who recently retired—commented this week on “Moonlight in the City,” the opening poem in my new collection, Seeded Light. I was honored to learn the point of view given by Wilson, who writes regularly at his blog, Books, Inq., a highly respected and continually informative site.

Indeed, I was pleased to see the manner in which Wilson’s commentary refers to my work: “‘Moonlight in the City’ is an exquisite poem. It is July 20, 1969, the day of the first moon landing, though the poem really isn't about that—except obliquely. That grand event simply functions the way a perspective figure does in a landscape painting.” Although he appreciates the suggestive details and connotative language in the descriptions offered throughout the poetry, Wilson correctly summarizes the larger picture presented by the poem: “It is not so much that the poem encapsulates a particular time and place so much as it reveals how such a particular time and place can echo so resonantly so many years later.”

In a post I wrote last July on the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, I observed, “since that night I have always perceived the lunar expedition as symbolic of new hope and the possibility for a brighter future, as well as other critical elements of emotion. At the same time, I remember considering contrasts discerned between the close-up picture of footprints created by men loping over the pristine lunar surface and some difficult scenery evidenced among the everyday environment of my own urban neighborhood. Consequently, in my poetry I have drawn from memories of that day four decades ago . . . .”

Below I present the poem, correctly formatted, that begins my latest volume and may serve for all as an introduction to the rest of the book’s contents. Also, I remind everyone putting together summer reading lists—as noted in the sidebar of this page—that Seeded Light is currently available for ordering at a discount, as are special signed and numbered copies of the collection.


One July evening when I was eleven,
. . . . . not a block from the waterfront, the day

yet hot, I waited by myself in the middle
. . . . . of a vacant lot and watched as a fresh wash

of moonlight began to flow over rooftops,
. . . . . and the sky beyond dust-covered billboards

just started to fill with clustered stars.
. . . . . The splintered grids of far-off apartment

fire escapes glittered against their backdrop
. . . . . of red brick as if lit by the flick of a switch.

In this distance, even the paired lines
. . . . . of elevated train tracks, stretching like bars

along the edge of the shore, appeared
. . . . . to shine, and those symmetrical rows

of windows on the warehouses below
. . . . . seemed almost to glow. Warning lights

pulsed all along the span of that great
. . . . . bridge over the river, as hundreds of bright

buds suddenly stippled those rippling
. . . . . waters now deepening to the blue of a new

bruise. Steel supports wound around
. . . . . one another into braided suspension cables

dipping toward either end and glinting
. . . . . beneath that constellation still slowly

showing in the darker corridor overhead.
. . . . . Already, I could see the outlines of lunar

topography, and I thought of that old
. . . . . globe my grandfather had once given me

only days before he died—of how
. . . . . I’d felt its raised beige shapes representing

the seven continents, and of the way
. . . . . he told me he’d been to every one of them.

Somewhere in the city, summertime
. . . . . sounds—the high screams of sirens

and muffled bass thumps of fireworks—
. . . . . played like the muscular backup music

pumping from some local garage band.
. . . . . But I stood listlessly under sharp-angled

shadows cast by street lamps, among
. . . . . an urban wreckage of broken cinder blocks

and glistening shards of shattered panes,
. . . . . and I listened to the wind-clank of chain-link

fencing around that grassless plot of land,
. . . . . knowing that night my father was far away

again, driving deliveries along an interstate,
. . . . . and my mother was sitting alone at home,

as were her neighbors, awaiting the first
. . . . . broadcast of a man walking on the moon.

—Edward Byrne

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