The idea of home, the magic of story, and the healing power of nature inform the poems in Late Winter. Yet, Bill Brown understands that loss and grief, breaking and mending deepen the human experience. “Taking joy, isn’t easy,” Brown writes, “as if you could ignore lost faces in city streets, or playgrounds littered with broken glass.” These poems often mine the darkness of loss, war and our culture’s constant barrage of status and style. Even so, in “Dream Letter Lullaby” Brown asks us to “be as hopeful as the hands of children sleeping.” His world gives us the right to reclaim our innocence. He knows what every child knows — “A closed heart can’t greet a winter sky. Even a rain puddle is filled with it, and a horse trough, and the slow current of creeks.” Late Winter opens with a search for home. By the book’s end, Brown believes that, with the power of memory and love, home can be born like a covenant in each of us, and that “Some ancient hope, like winter light, is allied with the gravity of stars.”
PRAISE FOR LATE WINTER
Everyone I ever love will die too soon. This sentiment from Bill Brown’s poem “To An Editor” is echoed again and again throughout his beautiful new collection Late Winter. And it is the lucky reader who is indebted to Brown’s determination to hold onto and to shine his unique and masterful light upon all he loves or has ever loved. Brown’s deeply felt and exquisitely crafted poems are informed by many powerful traditions and landscapes. He evokes other beloved voices from Whitman, Yeats, Kunitz and Bloch to Frost, Roethke, Oliver, Stafford and Stone. His landscapes carry us to places as diverse as Vietnam and Iraq to the plains of Kansas and the hills of Tennessee. Late Winter left this reader longing for more—much more of Bill Brown’s wisdom, heart, talent, and undeniable poetic skill.
—Cathy Smith Bowers
Over the years and under the radar of so-called established literary recognition, Bill Brown has been honing his craft and writing some of the most emotionally engaging poetry available. With this new book, he has achieved what few contemporary poets have, a voice that is intellectually rigorous and linguistically accessible. Here is a poet at the height of his powers, a poet who understands in his ear and his heart what Delmore Schwartz once proclaimed, “Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage. Courage is the most desperate, admirable, and noble kind of love.” These are poems in which love, desperate, dangerous, and courageous, brings us here, to this poet’s world, in all its evocative power.
—Kathryn Stripling Byer
Bill Brown is the most humane of poets. You end his recent book, envying his harmony with nature, his insights into current events, his relationship with his parents, his friends, and his spouse, his sense of humor, his very life. And yet, you are still aware that his tragedies and suffering are no greater than or different from your own. He is a poet with perfect pitch for the human condition today.