Elizabeth Gauffreau’s Reviews > The Salty River Bleeds

Elizabeth Gauffreau’s Reviews > The Salty River Bleeds

The Salty River Bleeds
by Stephen Page
Elizabeth Gauffreau‘s review 


It was amazing!


Stephen Page’s poetry collection The Salty River Bleeds continues the story of eco-rancher Jonathan and his wife Teresa begun in A Ranch on the Salty River. In the opening poem, “Jonathan Goes to Search for It at Sunset,” he is still searching for The Myth, but “Once again he is left standing / some hundreds of meters from Wood / because he finds his pants are much too thin / to cross the lots with thistle.” This poem sets the warp and weft of Jonathan’s search for meaning in middle age as the collection unfolds. 

These poems are finely-crafted and accessible, with a compelling voice. Page employs a range of poetic forms, including the epistolary ”Dear Nephew” and “Dear Father,” the prose poem “On a Breath-Mist Morning,” and the confessional “Your Violet Hair Ribbon.” I liked how the use of different forms left me a little off-balance as a reader, not knowing quite what to expect–which echoes Jonathan’s life on the ranch. 

The conflict Jonathan struggles with is between obligation and personal fulfillment: the compromises we have to make to earn a living and meet family obligations–and the emotional and spiritual cost these compromises can sometimes bring. In Jonathan’s case, the cost is the necessity to harden himself to carry on his constant battle with dishonest and malingering ranch employees. As he notes in “Tattler, Too”:

My armor is intact.
I had reason it keep it on. 
. . . . 
I have learned to lie and I don’t like it.

I didn’t realize until my second reading that Obligation is actually personified in the introduction to the collection, “Proem”: 

His hair is black, as are his eyes, beard, suit, and tie.
He holds a folded newspaper under his arm.
He smiles at the Beauty of Ranch.

I read A Ranch on the Salty River, immediately followed by The Salty River Bleeds. I would encourage other readers to do the same. The first book introduces us to Jonathan and provides glimpses into his thoughts and desires as he works the land in a foreign country to make a living. The Salty River Bleeds gives us his dark night of the soul. Will Jonathan emerge from his dark night to live in Wood, where he belongs? The penultimate poem of the collection, “The Salty River,” provides his vision of “the End”:

The Cultivators were nowhere to be seen,
their noxious machinery fumes and pesticides 
not clouding the air or poisoning the Earth. 
The Gauchos were all in their homes
With their families, eating, or drinking mate.

However, the closing poem of the collection, “Ennui: Old Man,” suggests not: 

I never see him stopped.,
sitting down, or drinking coffee
in a truck stop.
He is always walking, 
always walking.” 

For me, the best poetry is experienced viscerally first. It then resonates to the heart and continues resonating until it reaches the head. This is just how I experienced The Salty River Bleeds. Jonathan stayed with me for days after I finished reading the book. Kudos to the poet!

Elizabeth Gauffreau

http://lizgauffreau.com/

What an Adventure! We All Need A Trip Away From Our Problems Right Now

A great read and a sequel to “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.”

Seems we all have a common goal of seeking our unique peace while everyday chaos conspires against us.  For Jonathan, his everyday ranch life is filled with Cattle Rustlers, Horse Thieves, Tattlers, Malingerers, Excuse Makers….even a menacing helicopter!

What a lovely adventure! I only hope that Mr. Page continues the saga…and that Jonathan eventually finds his peace, his Myth. — K.N.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52468118-the-salty-river-bleeds

Gauchos riding horses to round up sheep, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina, South America

At Home a Lot?

What do you do when you’re not cleaning house, cooking, or washing dishes? — read! OK, I mean, lol, that is what you might want to do after you have seen all you want to see on Netflix and HBO, chatted with all your friends 100 times online, and got bored with playing boardgames.

Photo by Shawn Spry Shellnut

A Ranch Bordering the Salty River by Stephen Page

Little by Little he Reveals an Entire Universe in Microcosm

Having done a lot of traveling in Argentina in the past three years, I certainly welcomed reading Stephen Page’s book “The Salty River Bleeds.” His poems and prose-poems follow the lives of a husband and wife who live and work on an Argentinian ranch for a period of time, in that seemingly endless land of cattle-breeding estancias replacing most of the wildlife of the pampas. The other reviewers have for the most part already written whatever I could say, but I do want to add a bit more. I deeply appreciate Page’s scoping in on one of those estancias whose flatline acres I rode through and whose houses and outlying buildings I squinted at mainly from a distance. His near mythic ranch is like a stage with various characters of sometimes unsavory and even brutal traits. Little by little he reveals an entire universe in microcosm, only this one with gauchos; endless gates and fences and fence posts; South American horses, bulls, cows, and calves, and ancient grasses and flowers relentlessly being replaced by soybeans. I like the way the author conveys the gritty reality of cattle ranching while at the same time weaving in the incomparable beauty of what is left of the pampas its flora and fauna. I especially was moved by the poignancy of the book’s last two poems, The Salty River and Old Man, the first with its crescendo-vision of pink flamingos and the second with the old man in black tatters who keeps materializing, walking, forever walking, alongside the road. The Salty River Bleeds is a book containing many evocative and symbolic levels as befits a giant country, attentive to place and spirit of place and how human beings develop in response to that which surrounds them.  I highly recommend a ride through Stephen Page’s poetry.   – Susan Deer Cloud, Author of “The Way to Rainbow Mountain.”

 

I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things ~ Emma Goldman

go to Susan Deer Cloud’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/susandeercloud/

 #SusanDearCloud, #Stephen Page, #FinishingLinePress, #nature, #SavingNature, #TheEndlessRoad, #Flamingos, #theSaltyRiverBleeds

 

 

A Road Wanderer Who Saw Many University of Tennessee Fans Drives Through Knoxville

A Traveller Who Saw Many University of Tennessee Hats Wandered Through Knoxville While Delivering Books by Stephen Page is Given Free Laundry Service By Citi Hills Church. Books Were delivered to:

Lawson McGhee Library

Knoxville County Public Library

McKay Used Books

The Family Bubble Laundromat

and many other bookstores and libraries

#ecoLiterature #ecoPoetry #spreadTheNews #saveOurPlanet #noPesticides

 

 

 

 

 

A Wolverine Fan (Who Also Likes the Spartans) Stayed a Few Nights in Ann

A U of M Fan (Who also likes Michigan State) visited Ann Arbor, ate At Knight’s, mailed packages, and left books at the following locations:

Literati

Crazy Wisdom

Encore Records

Ann Arbor West Side Bookshop

Ann Arbor District Library

Knight’s Grill

AADL Public Library

Shapiro Library

Nicola’s Books

Mr. Stadium Laundry

 

Bridges, Woodlands, and Open Road

Stephen Page’s Lit Rep Has Entered Cincinnati, drove around the suburbs, eaten-on-the-road food, stayed in a roadside hotel, seen a horrible car accident, and left, enjoying the freedom of the road and the beauteous countryside. She has placed “The Salty River Bleeds” and “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River” in the following locations:

Sharonville Public Library

Deer Park Public Library

Madeira Branch Public Library

Old Milford Library

Goshen Branch Public Library

Owensville Branch Public Library

Clermont County Public Library

Doris E. Wood Branch Library

Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Salty, Earthy and Thoughtful

The Salty River Bleeds” by Stephen Page

Review by Aria Ligi

Page’s collection, Salty River Bleeds, is a two-part parable, one of the lives of Jonathon and Teresa and the other of his ranch, its inhabitants, the environ consisting of his cows, sheep, ibis and such and their struggle against the exteriors (man encroaching on them all). Yet, it is also, as he pictures so beautifully, mirrored with Old Man, who through the simple the challenge of living day to day, is a metaphor for it all. Pages’ work embodies very Campbellesque qualities of the myth told within the confines of free verse, epistles, and alternatively spiced with rhyme. Page is not only a mythmaker he is rancher poet-activist who is wise enough to question his place within the tale, that of hunter and farmer, while portraying in stark terms the cost to those around him from his livestock to the earth, air, those who would shepherd it, and those who would seek to profit from it. This is a fascinating read because it does not shy away from depicting the most hideous of things, such as the roof of a truck slicing through a man’s neck, nor does it distance itself from the beauty that is all around him. Yet, Page does not leave it there, because at the end he returns us to his quiet pondering, that of Teresa and Old Man, leaving us with the mirror image for us all and the unsaid question, are we all not walking that same road, and in that are we not all one and the same?

Publisher – Finishing Line Press

Order book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or straight from the publisher.

Noctua Review XII (with a poem by Stephen Page)

Noctua Review issue XIII

Below is the link for the digital issue of Noctua Review. Check it out!!

https://issuu.com/noctuareview/docs/noctua_review_vol._xii_issuu

With a poem on page 37 by Stephen Page, entitled “Parrot Plague,” which by the way, will be included in a book by Stephen Page to be released later this year.

corn cropParrot Eating Corn

(Photo of parrot courtesy of 123RF)

Noctua Header

(Cover and bird super mobile courtesy of Noctua Review)