Without a Map
Rivers course through Gary Lark’s Without A Map, rivers rising and rivers fished and rivers welcoming on hot summer days, as do the rhythms of money and want in a kid picking beans, a mother who brings home donuts from the donut shop, a father’s shifts at the mill and a man who works the “creek, /dump and back yards” for what he needs to survive. In poem after compelling poem, Lark gives voice to lives which all too often go unheard, lives lived in rural towns, trailer courts and farm houses on the back roads, places where he has grown up, lived and worked, listening all along to the stories that truly matter: what it means to lose a job, and what it means to have one; what it means to fight in wars whose memory never leaves and what it means to be lost then found again. Now it’s our turn to listen and to be grateful for these poems, the breadth of their understated eloquence and the lives they dignify.
—Maxine Scates, Undone and Black Loam
These finely-wrought poems testify to the rich interiority of people trapped in hard-scrabble lives. The title itself underlines how the speakers feel their way into uncharted territory. The quiet plain-spoken language lets the poems resist easy epiphanies while showing how solace is sometimes found in brief moments of felt community or glimpses of the rhythms of the natural world. Lark’s language and characters give us a taste of the richness that otherwise impoverished lives can yield, inviting us, too, to observe the world closely, with clarity, and with feeling.
—Lisa Steinman, Absence and Presence and Carslaw’s Sequences
Gary Lark’s book, Getting By, won the Holland Prize from Logan House Press, 2009. His chapbooks include “Men at the Gates,” “Tasting the River in the Salmon’s Flesh” and “Eels and Fishes.” Poems from Getting By have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. He has been a librarian, carpenter, hospital aide and janitor. He and his wife Dorothy live in Oregon’s Rogue Valley.