“Blue: Poems,” by Dave Morrison; JukeBooks, Camden, Maine, 2020; 78 pages, paperback

The way I read poetry has changed in the past 15 years or so. Not radically, really. But I have less patience than ever with obscurity and faux profundity. “Only emotion endures,” to quote an influential forebear. Usually what I have to say about poetry concerns how it hits my heart, I mean, rather than the academic anatomies that seemed so critical in decades past.

I don’t know if Dave Morrison’s poetry led me in this direction, when I first encountered it a dozen years or so ago, or if my changing direction led me to his poetry. Morrison’s poems are direct and clever in expression, vivid in image, explicit in emotion, and overflowing with perceptive awe for the everyday world and his own bewildering emotions. I find its authentic feeling greatly affecting. And although his poetry covers many thematic strands interesting to me personally, it also seems to draw a diversity of readers. If that’s true, then it’s a testament less to my personal taste than to the universality of the poet’s sensibilities. That’s something a writer either has or doesn’t have. It’s nothing you can learn in a workshop.

His newest collection, “Blue,” has it, again. The title poem is one of his most characteristic, most perfect pieces:

 

Blue snow on

blue porch railing.

Under a blue roof my

neighbor stirs herself

readying for an early

shift. A blue pickup truck

rolls down our blue street

scattering a murder of

blue crows. It is 5:59 on a

December Sunday and the

cold is visible. Other than the

yellow postage stamps of a

few early-riser windows,

everything is bathed in the

light of a high, round, blue

moon. Soon shapes will

emerge in their true colors –

the white house, the gray

road, the tan woodpile, the

black crows. The day, with its

serious realness will begin, but

until it does we are here in the

blue; you can close your eyes

and be anywhere, doing

anything.

This just about says it all.

Previous books by Dave Morrison, of Camden, include “Psalms,” “Cancer Poems,” “Refuge,” and “Clubland.” “Blue” will be available online and from midcoast and other local book stores soon. A launch event is scheduled to be held starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at the Rockland Library, 80 Union St. in Rockland.

Off Radar takes note of poetry and books with Maine connections the first and third Thursdays of each month. Dana Wilde is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Contact him at [email protected].

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