December 21, 2004: Headlines: COS - Estonia: Writing - Estonia: Poetry: Awards: University of Iowa Press: Review of Ark: Poems by Estonia RPCV John Isles

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Estonia: The Peace Corps in Estonia: December 21, 2004: Headlines: COS - Estonia: Writing - Estonia: Poetry: Awards: Alameda Times-Star: Estonia RPCV John Isles wins coveted NEA poetry award : December 21, 2004: Headlines: COS - Estonia: Writing - Estonia: Poetry: Awards: University of Iowa Press: Review of Ark: Poems by Estonia RPCV John Isles

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Review of Ark: Poems by Estonia RPCV John Isles

Review of Ark: Poems by Estonia RPCV John Isles

Review of Ark: Poems by Estonia RPCV John Isles


By John Isles

Kuhl House Poets Series

68 pages, 2003

$16.00 paper 0-87745-860-X

John Isles's Ark is about the people and events that pass through a life, leaving a void; about finding a presence in that absence and waking up to the realities of the present moment. It is concerned, at its watery heart, with discovery and confrontation, uncovering and witnessing, whether it be the new world, “the world behind every blouse,” or the tender mysteries that can only be seen through the eyes of belief: that which “starts the wild grasses trembling.”

With its deft maneuvers through both a historical and an emotional landscape, Ark speaks to us with a truly contemporary voice of authoritative vulnerability while never faltering into sentimental digressions. This uncanny authority at the helm of our ark continually surprises us, unfolding its lyrical gems and treasures culled along the journey, letting us in on the inscrutable facts of this life.

Isles began building his Ark out of a single desire to confront the deaths of loved ones. The book begins in a troubled present moment, with the speaker portrayed as an island, distant from other humans and from the events of history. The second section inhabits a half-historical, half-mythic landscape that exists in a deluge of time and where the characters, ranging from Caliban and Prospero to Hiawatha and others, are all used to “shore against my ruins.” The void the dead leave behind now becomes a presence in the lives of the living. The final section of the book is an attempt to return to reality, to build an ark of language, to become more involved with a complex, living world.

From “As One with Foot in Mouth”

As stray air brushing bare boards.

As light bending over a pair of shoes,

as musty coat holding the sole remains

of human shape.

As flood, as as . . .

profusion of darkness, red and yellow dahlias,

a chest of drawers, all furniture confounded.

All gathering together.

John Isles grew up in Setauket, New York, and now lives in Oakland, California. After graduating from SUNY Stony Brook, he joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Estonia. He attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has published poems in such magazines as Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Pleiades, and ZYZZYVA.

“Beneath their meticulous, smart, aphoristic surfaces, Isles investigates the collisions between mystery and meaning without allowing either to be asborbed by the other. He's also a marvelous linguistic flirt.”—Chase Twichell, editor, Ausable Press

“Ark sails over the kingdom of water, negotiating the sirens and the jaded sea, the erased footprints and the burials, the dark ‘unlit rooms of waves . . .’ A stranded man, mutineer, explorer. A Noah of the covenant, an Odysseus, an evangelist of fish, a lover of the new world. John Isles gives us, through these various captains, the log of a brilliant voyage: as the delicate relationship between the human and the natural world tips and dives and threatens to capsize. With all the doubt and uncertainty of Keats, he has made a stunningly beautiful new poetry out of ‘mostly water,’tacking in and sailing away.”—D. A. Powell

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.

December 18, 2004: This Week's Top Stories Date: December 18 2004 No: 334 December 18, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
RPCV remembers Deborah Gardner's murder in Tonga 17 Dec
Maoist insurgents in Nepal release Swiss aid worker 17 Dec
RPCV Alison Williams exhibits portraits of Malian people 16 Dec
Former Brazil Medical Director convicted of drug charges 16 Dec
RPCV Joseph Opala researched slave trade in RI 15 Dec
Vasquez sees resurgent interest in PC 14 Dec
Senator who wanted duel with RPCV joins Fox 14 Dec
NPCA planning National Day of Action for PC funding 13 Dec
RPCV "Harry" Chandler votes in Electoral College 13 Dec
Critic says Moyers delivered neo-Marxist propaganda 13 Dec
Micronesia RPCV Walter Cavanagh has 1,496 credit cards 13 Dec
PC "Survivor" Julie Berry headed for California 11 Dec
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Story Source: University of Iowa Press

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Estonia; Writing - Estonia; Poetry; Awards



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