Field Guide A Tempo
PoemsHenry WaltersThe ninth volume of the Hobblebush Granite State Poetry Series. David Ferry calls this book "copiously talented." (See his full commentary below.)
- Henry Walters was born in Chicago in 1984 and grew up in Indiana and southern Michigan. He studied Latin and Greek at Harvard College, beekeeping in Sicily, and falconry in Ireland. He has worked as a teacher, a naturalist, a practicing falconer, and a steward of a wildlife sanctuary. His poems, translations, and essays have appeared in a range of publications, from The Old Farmer's Almanac to The American Guide to Hawk Migration Studies, and he is the recipient of Better Magazine's 2013 prize for poetry. He currently lives in the beech and hemlock woods of Dublin, New Hampshire, where he coordinates the New Hampshire Young Birders Club and acts as Secretary for Experimental Living at Dublin School.
"Henry Walters' poems are exuberantly 'out of bounds' and 'in accord,' inventing new edges for their passions in a wild sophistication of verse forms and private mythologies. Unafraid of ecstasy, this poet has stolen Hermes' tortois-lyre and on it he plays tunes at once ancient and violently new. Every line ignites." —Rosanna Warren"Sometimes we need a guide to show us the way in which we’re lost. Sometimes we need a field guide to reintroduce us to the manifold wonder of the world that too often comes to us as the already known, the easily recognized. Henry Walters is such a guide, and he has written us a guidebook. But poems are curious documents of existence. They establish the world before they find out its facts. Unlike those guides whose index shows you the flora and fauna of a given biome, a poetic field guide comes fraught with the knowledge that so little of what’s real can ever be wholly conveyed—save, perhaps, by letting definition drift into pure song. But what song can keep singing itself at the pitch of pure existence? None can. Nor should it. Rather, we need poems such as Walters writes, poems that show the relict ancient world persists in this current one, and that we suffer a need we seldom feel, to describe not only ourselves back to ourselves—field guide to the intimate geography of being human—but to find within the deep descriptive effort that music that undergirds the daily whole."—Dan Beachy-Quick“In Henry Walters’ copiously talented book, look, for example, at the beautifully maintained poem 'Lookout' that begins so wonderfully, 'You think of those Roman soldiers standing guard / Somewhere at the edge of their language' and, in another poem, 'red leaves, last leaves, churned up wild / as notes under nobody’s hands,' and in another, the hair-raising account of hawks eating jays, 'but sometimes . . . they lived longer, their eyes stayed open, blinking, till they were out, & their beaks stayed open, not screeching or wailing, simply enduring, till their hearts were out, or after. . . .' Field Guide is full of observation and invention.”—David Ferry" 'Assembling anything this delicate, / dismantle / your material / resources,' Henry Walters instructs us early on in his remarkable collection, Field Guide A Tempo. Every poem here—from the gorgeous waterwheel of a villanelle 'After Proteus' to the 'Field Guide' to the self that lends the book its title—repurposes the material resources of language to create delicate flying machines that sing. '[T]rue enough, / There is something of birds in me,' Walters writes, and I believe him, and you will, too."—Srikanth Reddy
"In Field Guide A Tempo Henry Walters brings his original thought to bear on the natural world and on what, and who, he has come across in it, and in the worlds of art and history as well. The book grows in openness, depth, and true authority through his dream of St. Francis ('He made an / awkward human & an awkwarder bird'), to the wonderful 'After Caliban': Walters begins his book with one musical handsaw, and moves to the Caliban poem, which sounds like another, wilder musical saw:
. . . Give us this day
Is always on my tongue,
& then Forgive us for.
My life I neither wish nor wish aside,
But let me see that mare
From one end of the isle to another,
& I renounce the dreaming world forever,
Or else the bliss
Of waking all at once & once for good."
- 104 pp, PaperbackISBN 978-1-939449-06-1Price $18.00Publication Date: October, 2014