A Ranch Bordering the Salty River by Stephen Page$14.99, paper
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Un rancho que bordea el río Salado por Stephen Page
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What People Are Saying About Stephen Page’s “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River”
Half Frost, half Hemingway, Stephen Page tells a gripping tale in verse of a rancher disenchanted with the details of administering land, its livestock, and its unreliable laborers, only to be called by the mythic lure of the nearby Wood and the amorphous deity that emerges to encounter him. The writing here is clean and lovely and permanent, which is rare in storytelling and rarer still in poetry. – Rustin Larson, author of The Philosopher Savant
For Jonathan and Teresa, who live on A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, life is rich with pleasures and responsibilities. Set in the vast landscape of Argentina, where “summer is a bread oven that delivers too early” and “the gauchos once stopped to drink mate in front of the fire,” Stephen Page’s poems describe a life where the border between place and state of being are often crossed at a heavy price. The air is scented with eucalyptus, but there are vultures “heavy along the fenceline.” In this place where “they do not honor absentmindedness,” a man has little latitude in life’s juggle of work, love, and spiritual journey. Page manages this precariousness beautifully in these poems. – Leslie McGrath, author of Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage
“Enter the myth” of Stephen Page’s Argentine estancia of moonrings and mate in this love letter to a woman and her land from a former soldier who has “holstered (his) gun and sheathed / (his) knife and got down to the business / of grass.” A Ranch Bordering the Salty River is a beautiful meditation on counting and “uncounting,” of “eucalypti and sycamores,” cattle and cattle thieves, yard hands, a growing family, trials, blessings, legends, and of overseeing a wooded eco-ranch. – Chip Livingston, author of Naming Ceremony and Crow-Blue, Crow-Black
Stephen Page opens the gates to Jonathan’s ranch where “the sky is so large” and we walk with Jonathan “into the myth of the Wood, the legend of its shade, to lick the dew off leaves.” We ride horseback through the Belt of Venus. We greet Jonathan’s dog, who arrives “as a moon phase, mostly black, a crescent tie of white…the sun reflected off (his) chest (sic) like a journeying god riding a chariot”. We meet Teresa, Jonathan’s wife, who “no longer wanders the Wood, but cradles her child in the bleach of her kitchen.” We encounter “mountainous dragons with fire-wet tongues and hot breath and teeth like jagged sun-bleached rocks.” We carry belt knives, hand guns, and stand outside Malingerer’s home with hammers in our hand. Yes, Page invites us onto A Ranch Bordering the Salty River with all its beauty and violence. It is a visit we will long remember. – g emil reutter, author of Blue Collar Poet
A Ranch Bordering the Salty River is a character-driven poetic narrative filled with suspense, cruelty, love, family, nature, mate, goddesses, Teresa, cattle, cattle ranches, and gauchos. There are heroes—Jonathan the narrator and The Horseback Vet—juxtaposed with villains of all sorts which one is likely to encounter on ranches. At the “Tree root” Jonathan (a man of many occupations besides ranching) longs not to be driven by soy-for-profit which his business partner urges: “to plow away more of my grass, shot the quail, trap the armadillos, flit away the mockingbird, spray to death the flowers, plant genetically modified soy, sterilize my herd to nothing”; rather, he wants “Transformations” – “let the cattle feed…keep the fields clovered…take daily strolls in the quiet of the Wood…watch for hours bumblebees work, and lock eyes with the mockingbird.” Jonathan has this unescapable longing “to return to the wood/To the way it was.” Stephen Page will take you there and upon returning, you too will be changed. – Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, author of Images of Being
Mother Nature, the world of the gauchos, bees, an Argentine ranch: with vivid accuracy and little sentimentality, Stephen Page delineates the sensibilities and life of Jonathan, a rancher. The afternoon mate taken, observations of cattle, mosquitoes, flora and fauna not only of the physical landscape, but the mental landscape of those that inhabit it, Page returns again and again to the restorative old ways of nature: “Yesterday I walked to the Wood. / Yesterday I walked back. / Yesterday I walked. Yesterday / I want to return to the Wood, / To the way it was.” – Mộng-Lan, author of One Thousand Minds Brimming.
This strong and unerringly honest book gives us a unique perspective of a poet/rancher. The poet (his books and diplomas hidden in a secret room) has an insightful grasp of the largely uneasy worker-boss relationship and makes poems out of his ambivalence. Page’s world of horses, cows, birds, grasses, native flowers, and trees are evoked with a mix of lyricism and exactitude. We come to trust his attachment to the land and to his wife and to his wife’s family. All this with a glimmer of a love story in which we may imagine what brought this erudite poet to gaucho country add up to a memorable collection. – Colette Inez, author of The Luba Poems
Bio Stephen Page: Author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. Likes throwing cellphones into lakes.
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