Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Greg Brownderville of Pumpkin Bend

I have tried to like poetry. It seems the literary, sophisticated thing to do.

But thus far, I haven't encountered much that I feel I can sit down and soak up, enraptured for any actual length of time.

Greg Brownderville, on the other hand, is one poet/folktale teller I have come to like. The young writer from the tiny Arkansas town of Pumpkin Bend -- it's in Woodruff County, I looked it up -- conveys life in the Delta with language so rich you can almost taste his words.

Two of my favorite lines come from separate parts of his poem, "Mystery":
"It's nice to know a passage of the world by heart."
"Everything that shatters, everything that scatters, everything that matters is a mystery."

I first fell in love with Greg...I mean Greg's poetry...when I heard him read some of his work at the yearly Arkansas Literary Festival soon after I'd moved here. I think all that's required to begin adoring a good writer is to hear him read his work aloud. Greg's velvety phrases are like verbal molasses, slowly dripping over you until you're enveloped by the sweet, Southern rhythms.

To whet your appetite, here's the poem with which he closes Deep Down in the Delta (The Doodlum Brothers Press, 2005):


An utterly unlabored thought
That takes away the sting,
Like an unexpected crystal rock,
Polished by a spring;
The day that dawns when nights are swarming,
Like sun on the blade of a knife;
Your breathing in my bed this morning:
Reasons men have clung to life.

GO FIND HIM. Most recently, he published an essay, "Squirrel Soul," in the August Little Rock Soiree.

1 comment:

  1. I have taken three classes under Greg Brownderville at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO and look forward to his poetry workshop beginning this fall semester. Greg is among the short list of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of experiencing. In his workshops he has the talent of finding the kernel of truth and beauty in the midst of even the worst student efforts while making helpful suggestions to improve even the best poems. In this age too much devoted to abstracted imagistic poems and overblown language play, Greg's gentle, forceful narrative poems bring clarity, mystery and beauty to the art.


    Bob Boldt