Luther Allen

THE VIEW FROM LUMMI ISLAND: A JOURNAL OF EXCURSION INTO PLACE, Luther Allen. Other Mind Press, Bellingham, WA, 2010, 163 pages, $15 paper,

Bellingham is one of my favorite places in the world — filled with people like Luther Allen and J. I. Kleinberg who I consider to be members of my true tribe. It has been great fun getting to see this full-body immersion that Allen has accomplished here, in writing about a place — Lummi Island — day after day, his biologist’s / geographer’s eye converting everything into lyric detail.

In setting a goal to read this book in one day, I defied the author’s advice:

“My hope is that the reader will have the time and inclination to read this book over the span of an entire year. Many of the poems are seasonal. Pace is important.”

All I can do — heady with the rush of this experiment — is to now put this book beside my writing chair and promise to make my way through it again, as intended.

Images of islands and water and orcas and “bruised ragged light” abound here. I’ve gone against the grain (again) and chosen to share a poem that begins inside. (But do notice the “flocks” of squirming, flitting words.)

March 22

neat tiers of books
huge flocks of words
captured and corralled
in such a way
that you begin to think
is understandable.

but step out the door.
words do not flit through the air
words do not squirt through the ground
things and non-things slither and pulse
neither directed nor truly described
by our most perfect sentences.
the best we can do: just touch, wonder

and keep writing


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