A Mark of Permanence

Justin Watkins

New and Selected Poems from Land and Water

by the author of the award winning chapbook Bottom Right Corner.
“Justin Watkins’ poems always surprise, and I have long admired them. They are imperial messages, and contain the secrets that arrive from close observation and the knowledge gleaned from it. The reader will see the world in a new way and be wealthier for reading them.” —Larry Gavin, author of Necessities, Least Resistance, Stone and Sky, and The Initiation of Praise.

“As he looks at corpses of muskrats – ‘puts some thought on porcupines,’ – or pauses while dragging out a deer on snow, thinks about how ticks wait out their prey, Justin Watkins’ poems take us into the heart of the Midwest as lived through its language.” —Jim Johnson is the former Poet Laureate of Duluth. His latest book, Text For Our Nomadic Future, came out in August 2018.


 

Photo by Dan Fraiser

I’ve always been a fan of the work of Justin Watkins. By Dan Frasier

His blog, Fishing and Thinking, where he writes under the pen name “Wendy Berrell”, is a truly special place to read the ruminations of a scientist who sees a value in living life close to the land. Beyond his blog, Justin’s book of poetry Bottom-Right Corner from Red Dragonfly Press is a brilliant work of outdoor poetry about life as an outdoorsman in South Eastern Minnesota. So I’ve been a fanboy for a long time.

In his newest book A Mark of Permanence published by Shipwreckt books, Justin takes his work to a new level; integrating poetry and his uniquely stark factual prose, Justin has created a series of vignettes into life being lived in modern Minnesota as it was lived centuries ago. His deep respect for the quarry in his tales along with the land and water they live in shines through like rays of sun through a dark grey cloudy ceiling. Yet Justin achieves this feat without flowery language or high-minded soliloquies. Instead, he tells you the facts like they are and lets the overwhelming reality of just how interconnected we are with the world around us speak for itself.

I think nothing better exemplifies this amazing talent of Justin’s than 2 stanzas in the poem

“The Hidden Flat”


Paleozoic Seas have come and gone here

Flooding and receding

Leaving shelved limestone

That our boot cleats bite and hold

We study the ceaseless hefting of water

For there is no other signature

Water rock two hunters and the fish:

Dark shapes deliberate in the shallows


Amazon reviews—

From Oliver: “Great read for anyone who loves being outdoors. This is a solid read and one I’ve enjoyed several times since it came in the mail. The poems and prose presented are thoughtful and make me long to be near a trout stream or hiking through the forest. I highly recommend this read.”

Dan Fraiser says: “Clear and real picture of the life of a Modern Day American Sportsman. Don’t open this book expecting some romantic tome about nature and harmony and good vibes. This is a stark and realistic look into the interconnectedness, harsh realities and oftentimes dissonant life of a modern-day outdoorsman. Fantastic read that I’ve gone back to more than a few times.”

K. Bartlett: “Thoughtful stuff by Justin Watkins. My copy arrived and I thought, “I will just read the first poem.” Then I sat down and read the entire book in one sitting. Fantastic writing for anyone who has an appreciation of life and the outdoors.”

All Roads Lead Home

Nicole Borg


In her debut collection, All Roads Lead Home, Nicole Borg convinces us that poetry is the way our most important experiences may be best understood. Her voice has resonance and clarity, speaking not just for herself as woman, mother, wife, teacher and citizen, but for what is best in us. Her work reveals a heart fully alive, a mind in tune with moral responsibility, and a deft hand that chooses its words with care for their nuanced rhythms and sounds. Without mystifying or confusing us, her poems convey that the ordinary is special, and they challenge us to rediscover
the mystery in our lives.—Emilio DeGrazia, author of Eye Shadow (Rocket Science Press 2014).

Nicole Borg lets us ride shotgun on these road trips toward home. Home: where love and hope reside. Where we find what fills us. Where we are blessed by the moon and rooted in the stars. Borg leads us down a new path, and we’re richer
for having been on the road with her.—poet and editor Dara Syrkin.


This is a collection of sustaining drives across country and time with a woman who revisits herself, packing courage in a rusted suitcase that demands to be unlocked. The scenes along this road trip unfold risks she took to love, to be alone, to confess, and to maneuver herself into freedoms borne from raw storytelling. The poems often roll, subtly, to a surprise punch stop. The language draws a quick inhale from the fresh and sudden image of the truth that was waiting between the lines.—Stillwater poet and editor Elissa Cottle.


Amazon Reviews—
From Heidi P.: Thoroughly enjoying this book of poetry. I am currently rereading several of the poems, peeling back the layers of meaning. Poems should leave you with emotions to savor and Borg definitely writes with this in mind.
Domestication by Rob Hardy

Domestication – Collected Poems 1996-2006

Rob Hardy

Poet Laureate Northfield, Minnesota 

Available at Content Bookstore in Northfield

Amazon Reviews—

Carrie L. writes: In these beautiful, reflective poems, Domestication is a collection to be savored. As I read each poem, the words of Rob Hardy’s generous, intimate introduction resonated. Regarding a move to Minnesota, he notes, “Poetry became a map to help me make my way to this new place.” In these beautiful, reflective poems, that new place is sometimes a physical location, an experience, or a fully appreciated moment. A classicist who has spent much of his adult life noting the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane, Hardy is as astute discussing a young boy building a world with clay as he is the fall of Troy. His words, soft, powerful, and somehow always bearing his wonder and gratitude, allow the reader to feel the magnitude of the personal and the universal, the momentary and the historical. A poem I returned to again and again, “Ars Poetica While Waiting for the Appliance Repairman,” begins: These words will never fix anything. In its entirety, however, this poem stamped Hardy’s self-deprecation on my heart and righted my morning. I’ll keep this collection close at hand.

Green Blade 2016 Edition

The annual literary magazine of the Rural America Writers Center, Plainview, Minnesota, published through a special partnership with Shipwreckt Books.

 

Green Blade 2016 Contributors:
Peter Allen
Jill Krase
Justin Watkins
Jennifer Jesseph
Tom Driscoll
CJ Jacobson
Nancy Hengeveld
Steven Vogel
Craig Falkum
Elliott Foster
Carolyn Bizien
Susan McMillan
Nicole Borg
Nicholas Ozment
Marcia Savela
Kit Rohrbach
Kim Zabel
Dan Butterfass
Scott Lowery
Tim J Brennan
Betty Benner
Larry Gavin
Ken McCullough
Elizabeth Oness
Cecilia Dingledy
Melissa McNallan
Emilio DeGrazia
Donna Halvorson
Benj Mahle
Peg Bauernfeind
Gloria Smit

Eros in Autumn

Steven Schild

The rather raw curiosity at the heart of Eros in Autumn, by Steve Schild, is among the many reasons you’re going to admire the short poems you are about to experience. Rather than wither and retire into some social stereotype of what a man, a poet, a professor, husband, son and father ought to write about as he grows long in the tooth, Mr. Schild confronts the sudden change from man to old man head on, challenges his most intimate perceptions and boldly questions the perceptions looking back at him, whether from the candor of a bathroom mirror or the scruples darkening a young woman’s beautiful eyes.—Publisher’s preface by Shipwreckt Managing editor Tom Driscoll
Congratulations to Steven Schild, author of Eros in Autumn (Up On Big Rock Poetry Series, 2014), for bringing home a silver medal for best poetry at the Midwest Book Awards gala. And congratulations to Shipwreckt Books Publishing Company for holding its own against 90 publishers from 11 states.