Sycamore•Oriole (poetry)

Ahsahta Press
Boise State University
Boise, Idaho
56 pages, paperback.
Edited by Dale K. Boyer.

Available through Ahsahta Press, Amazon, Alibris, AbeBooks

Reviews Reviews Comments Where to Buy
Ed Folsom

“…the most essentially American quest…a descent through the palimpsestic layers of American history in order to touch…the savage mystery that this culture has been so intent on forgetting, on denying…”

Joe Bruchac

Sycamore • Oriole is a book rooted in respect and understanding for the natural landscape which all too many American poets have used as nothing more than a backdrop for their own angst. There’s a quiet understanding in each of these poems which never crosses over into conceit and is balanced by the sort of understated humor which I’ve always admired in some of Gary Snyder’s best work. Like a walk in the wilderness, this sequence of poems takes you out to the edge of civilized vision and– if you listen closely enough– lets you see a ways beyond, hear some of the old wild songs of danger and exultation which are always there.”

Anselm Hollo

“Attentive to both the human and non-human universe, and humorously humble in its stance toward them both, Ken McCullough’s record of climb and descent is a fine corrective antidote to the numerous pre-packaged ‘vision quests’ cluttering the shelves of New Age bookstores.

Even to a decadent city slicker like myself– who has spent many years now in towns surrounded by the wide open spaces he read about as a kid in the novels of Karl May and Zane Gray– this narrative of mountains, glaciers, and sweat lodge visions shines with a similar aura of adventure, daring and persistence, while being quite a bit more believable and in tune with intelligent wistful late twentieth-century sensibility.”

Diane Glancy

“McCullough builds a sweat lodge of words, heating up a fire that purifies and endures.”

Theodore Enslin

“This is no ordinary group of longish poems concerned with one man’s meditative wanderings in several parts of the high country of Montana and Wyoming. I say it is not ordinary, because there are many such collections, and they are ordinary. The attempt to find one’s self in a world that denies self is a laudable one, but it often ends up with an A for effort. Not so these poems, which in a leisurely swinging stride attempt to forge a ritual which is personal but deeply rooted in the past of the earlier ones who moved through this same high country, as well as in the past of many other traditions. The ritual itself is no mere collage– it comes through the process of the poems. That is what, more than any other single factor, sets them apart from the ordinary. They are poems that could be left on the bark and leaves of that country, or could be carried into other countries/contexts by anyone receptive to the search for what is always around us, but which many deny. I can’t be moved by these poems in the way that Ken McCullough is, but I am moved, and I recommend the experience, each in his own way, to other readers of this fine clear book. I can hope that there will be many such, and for a long time.”

Painting by Lisa Nankivil for "Obsidian Point" Book Cover

Photos of painting, books and other works by Kathy Greden

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