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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Song for One Who Cannot Speak"

My wife Pam has on her blog today a post titled “Speech Therapy,” concerning the difficulties our son Alex has had with development of speech due to his autism, and she relates a few of the ways we tried to obtain professional help for him in his earlier years. Thanks to the therapies we have attempted over time, and especially due to the extraordinary efforts Pam has made to assist Alex, his language skills have improved. Although his inability to fully engage in discussions or to initiate conversations continues to need improvement, particularly when speaking with people he does not know, he has made great strides.

Indeed, last night when we were at a restaurant for dinner, as the waitress approached our table with a glass of Sierra Mist for Alex, we reminded him that he was to thank her when she arrived, something he has been unable to do in the past. However, as she placed the drink in front of Alex, this time he spoke with a firm “Thank you,” a breakthrough for him. In fact, when the waitress responded with “You’re very welcome,” Alex displayed a wide and proud smile that did not leave his face for a while.

Reading Pam’s article, I recalled how we have occasionally remarked upon the irony that one of Alex’s main obstacles has been his lacking in the area of language and communication skills, yet he has parents who both teach language, literature, and communication for a living. On the other hand, we believe perhaps we have been fortunate that our backgrounds have aided somewhat in the understanding and support we are able to give Alex.

Furthermore, Pam’s notes on speech development reminded me how the factual memoirs she offers often are appropriate companion pieces to the poems I have written about Alex in the past, as well as the work I am compiling in my current ongoing project, Autism: A Poem.

Therefore, I thought today I would present “Song for One Who Cannot Speak,” complementary poetry for Pam’s post. This poem about Alex during the language difficulties of his younger days appeared in Tidal Air, my collection of poetry published by Pecan Grove Press in 2002.


Another flare of morning light shows
. . . . . over the threshold of low and rolling

hills that lies before us, and even
. . . . . as this early sun, seemingly weightless,

rises into an otherwise empty sky,
. . . . . I wonder why I believe today may

be any different. Last evening
. . . . . as I was writing in my notebook,

I listened to the distant drift of melody
. . . . . lifting from a radio somewhere beyond

this balcony, a song with its music now
. . . . . muffled and lyrics as soft as an intimate

late-night whisper murmured between
. . . . . lovers. Though those words could not

be heard, carried away as easily
. . . . . as autumn leaves in a sea breeze

or those far-off harbor boats
. . . . . that disappear at dusk in a developing

mist, I imagined phrases forming
. . . . . themselves, sentences taking shape—

lots of white space clotted by ink blots
. . . . . of notes and by organized knots of letters,

like lines from lost compositions
. . . . . rediscovered, found inside an old record

album. I pictured these symbols
. . . . . that mimic speech, the way I sometimes

do when I watch your struggle
. . . . . to be heard, mouthing sounds that never

emerge, as instead an absence is further
. . . . . emphasized, only the silence is noted.

Once again, I imagine—if on this day
. . . . . the doctors were proven wrong—how

your voice might imitate that song,
. . . . . and I wonder what you would say.

. . . . . —Edward Byrne

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