Unexpected Shiny Things

Unexpected Shiny Things

by Bruce Dethlefsen

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Unexpected Shiny Things by Bruce Dethlefsen

In his second, full-length collection, poems of innocence and experience take readers from the schoolyard to the trout stream, from birth to death. Dethlefsen’s familiar, folksy voice acquires new depth and darkness.

As Max Garland notes, “there’s clarity that’s not to be confused with naiveté or simplicity.” Dethlefsen chooses to speak in a plain voice that makes room for the lyrical in these poems, using a common vocabulary and an understated tone of voice. While his previous collections have hinted at darker tints to life, this book allows the darkness its due, paying attention to death, to loss, to grief, and to anger. The people in this book, including the poet/speaker, are conflicted and multi-dimensional: failing, trying again, and, in the meantime, loving as best they can.

W.E. Butts praises the balance of the “elliptical, conversational, playful, and serious,” in Dethlefsen’s poems. The shifts in voice, using song, pun, and rhyme by turn, bring the reader closer to the heart of the book and then playfully, skittishly, evade and deflect the attention. It is by what he leaves out, as much as what he says, that Dethlefsen expresses the inexpressible.

The terms which spring to mind on reading Bruce Dethlefsen’s poems, tenderness, kindness, gentleness, aren’t words we’re used to hearing in relation to contemporary poetry. These poems have a wide scope and a lot of give. They’re tough enough to admit how fragile they—and we—are. And they whisper whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going through, you are not alone. You are not alone. Together, these poems lead us to, in Garland’s words, “a redemptive vision of the world around us.”

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013303645
Publisher: Cowfeather Press
Publication date: 10/20/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 104
File size: 224 KB

About the Author

Bruce Dethlefsen was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1948 and moved to Wisconsin in 1966. He is Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2011/2012, under the sponsorship of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Previous collections include two chapbooks, A Decent Reed (Tamafyr Mountain Press, 1999) and Something Near the Dance Floor (Marsh River Editions, 2003). Breather (Fireweed Press, 2009), his first full-length book, received an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Twice-nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Bruce’s poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and Your Daily Poem, where he was Poet-of-the-Month. Bruce also performs original music with Bill Orth as Obvious Dog on Cathryn Cofell’s CD, Lip.

His son, Nathan, lives in West Salem, Wisconsin. His other son, Wilson, died in a moped accident in June, 2010. A retired educator and public library director, Bruce lives with his partner of twenty years, Sue Rose Allen, in Westfield, Wisconsin.

He still believes the flying dreams are the best.

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