Archives for posts with tag: Jeffrey C. Alfier

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MY GREAT AUNT SPEAKS OF NIGHTS IN HARDIN COUNTY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Preachers said God made Texas nights this dark.
That’s no comfort to girls home by themselves.
She could hear tongues and praises loud outside;
old wives, children, men of coal or lumber —
lots of folks shouting and carrying on,
given more to water-witching than prayer
come first light. It’s how folks fought loneliness.

 
Beyond the plank steeples rising in swamps,
this fur trader’s daughter spent nights alone,
her father trudging forgotten dirt trails 
impassable to anything with wheels.
Bound for some reclusive trapper’s cabin
he’d return by way of any roadhouse,
stumbling past the decay of tenant shacks.

 
She recalls those nights squinting through windows
waiting for his shadow to reemerge
soaked with rain and pelts — a feral hunter.
The last time I paid her a call, blindness
was slowly dimming her central vision.
Sometimes a stray voice makes her turn and look,
rain tapping glass like a startled stranger.
***
…”My Great Aunt Speaks of Nights in Hardin County” appears in the Silver Birch Press release The Wolf Yearling, a collection of poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier, available at Amazon.com.

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THE DESERT RANCHER ON SUNDAY
by Jeffrey Alfier

Winds release clouds from the tread of drifting
but buoy the arcs of loitering hawks.
 
It’s so quiet he swears he hears sunlight,
Chihuahuan sage blossoming in clusters.
 
Where his footfalls impel a warbler’s flight,
distant church bells summon their own echoes.
 
He kneels, presses palms to parched tractor ruts
that angle off into wind-runneled fields.
 
Thin soil keeps him for another season,
the ground made of nothing his hands won’t hold.

…”The Desert Rancher on Sunday” appears in the Silver Birch Press release The Wolf Yearling, a collection of poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier, available at Amazon.com.

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The Wolf Yearling
poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier
(Silver Birch Press, May 2013)

Reviewed by
Frank Mundo, L.A. Examiner

The term “writer’s writer,” or, in this case, “poet’s poet,” is very unusual in that it seems to have no clear definition, yet every writer knows what it means. For me, a poet’s poet is a workhorse, someone who, focusing on craft, consistently creates the kind of high-level work of art other poets truly admire. Unfortunately, however, despite this effort and discipline, despite this consistent outpouring of strong work, the poet’s poet is typically a label for the unappreciated and relatively obscure writer who deserves far more attention from readers.

That’s why I wanted to review The Wolf Yearling by poet’s poets, Jeffrey Alfier, a local Los Angeles poet, photographer, and literary journal editor. I believe, in a better world, this artist, with his accomplished work and vast potential, would be a darling of the literary world – or would at least own a much much bigger corner of it.

Talk about a workhorse. Already a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Jeffrey Alfier’s poetry and photographs consistently appear on the pages and covers of literary magazines and journals all across the country. The Wolf Yearling is his first collection of 65 of these published poems. With his photographer’s keen eye and a strong artistic sensibility, Alfier mixes grand images of nature’s bounty with sober depictions of the lonely and forgotten locations and inhabitants of the American Southwest. What’s most interesting to me about this collection is how, like a photographer’s lens, the poet seems only to capture images as they are in nature, without judgment or criticism. Somehow, even when the poet does reveal the “vulgar charm of exhausted huntsmen,” how the “ocotillo blossoms when it pleases” or how in the Puerto Blanco Mountains “rock cairns are the oldest profession in the book,” this is not commentary or gossip. It’s the truth. And, more importantly, it’s evidence of beauty.

If you could only read one poem in this work, one work that would best represent the collection as a whole, I’d urge you to read “The Desert Rancher on Sunday.” In only five couplets – one sublime snapshot – the poet manages to hit on both of his favorite subjects at once: 1) Some forgotten desert ranch somewhere in the Southwest whose “parched tractor ruts…angle off into wind-runneled fields”; and 2) The local inhabitants, lively flora and fauna, “loitering hawks,”Chihuahuan sage blossoming in clusters,” and a single warbler whose flight is impelled by the footsteps of a nameless, faceless (and, perhaps, timeless) rancher. Touched off by the wind, the poem’s action is but a reaction to man, reinforced by “distant church bells” that “summon their own echoes” as the rancher kneels down, shoves his hands into the earth and we learn that this…

Thin soil keeps him for another season,
The ground made of nothing his hands won’t hold.

If you like this poem, you’re really going to enjoy the rest of this journey through the Southwest, “all those towns…that were never ours.” Like Terlingua, Texas, “where a man could once die…in three languages.” And south Tuscon, Arizona where “jail is not the only type of hard time.” Or towns north of Lazaro, Mexico where “mesquite fences stretch like saurian spines/ across fields overrun by buffel grass.” Or the Santa Cruz Valley, where “hawks are connoisseurs” of death. And where attractions like the Devil’s Punchbowl in Los Angeles lie “between fault lines named for saints” and a volcanic field is also “heir to the throne of vanished sabertooths.” Or the Sierra Madre mining belt where “few can ditch the trap of a mining town job -/ a rock rolled uphill forever from hell.”

You’ll witness the first snow in the Santa Catalinas, and nightfall on the Bajada where “men breach canyons that throw back their voices.” You’ll discover “horse-mounted vaqueros” in Arivaca, and an evangelist at the Brazos River. You’ll meet a sundog rancher who died four days shy of turning 50; a cook and rumored fugitive who is paid under the table; the seasonal worker in Dome Valley who “sleeps there like Caliban under his cloak.” You’ll suffer with a family whose foreclosed farm will be auctioned off in the morning, rain or shine, because “for auctioneers, no weather is too grim.” You’ll see backpackers, a parolee, a widow, a farmer’s daughter – not to mention this land’s real owners: the desert elk, the coyote, the jaguar, the white-throated swift and the wolf yearling, to name just a few.

Bottom line: The Wolf Yearling is a celebration of life, beautiful and moving, and yet brutally unforgiving, by a local “artist’s artist” who deserves much more attention.

Find The Wolf Yearling by Jeffrey C. Alfier at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Frank Mundo is the author of The Brubury Tales (foreword by Carolyn See) and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories. His latest book is an illustrated novella for adults called Different.  Follow him on Twitter@Frankemundo or @LABooksExaminer for updates.

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ABOUT THE POET: Jeffrey C. Alfier is a five-time Pushcart nominee and the author of The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013). He is the founder and co-editor of San Pedro River Review.

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MY GREAT AUNT SPEAKS OF NIGHTS IN HARDIN COUNTY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Preachers said God made Texas nights this dark.
That’s no comfort to girls home by themselves.
She could hear tongues and praises loud outside;
old wives, children, men of coal or lumber —
lots of folks shouting and carrying on,
given more to water-witching than prayer
come first light. It’s how folks fought loneliness.

 
Beyond the plank steeples rising in swamps,
this fur trader’s daughter spent nights alone,
her father trudging forgotten dirt trails 
impassable to anything with wheels.
Bound for some reclusive trapper’s cabin
he’d return by way of any roadhouse,
stumbling past the decay of tenant shacks.

 
She recalls those nights squinting through windows
waiting for his shadow to reemerge
soaked with rain and pelts — a feral hunter.
The last time I paid her a call, blindness
was slowly dimming her central vision.
Sometimes a stray voice makes her turn and look,
rain tapping glass like a startled stranger.

PHOTO: Jeffrey C. Alfier reads from his collection, The Wolf Yearling, at the Poetry Society of Texas Poetry and Music Festival (Midland, Texas, May 2013). Find The Wolf Yearling at Amazon.com.

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Jeffrey C. Alfier acquired a keen poetic vision from years of living and traveling throughout the Southwest. Composed mainly in syllabic verse, The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013) exhibits strict attention to tightly controlled language that renders, in rich imagism, American deserts and mountains, the plains of the Trans-Pecos, border towns, and the sandy soils of east Texas.

Poem from THE WOLF YEARLING…

LATE LIGHT IN THE SANTA CRUZ VALLEY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

If you can dismiss the moon’s pale ascent
you might hear wingbeats in the fading light,
dusk calling hawks to perch in cottonwoods
and toll a deadpan vigilance eastward
toward sierras that ruddle to shadows.
 
These hawks are connoisseurs of what it takes
to die when small prey barters noonday sun
for nightfall’s cooling of dry riverbeds,
waiting out the heat under my trailer.
Canted on one wheel, it tilts back to earth.

REVIEWS: 

“Alfier’s sharp lyrics come upon you like a door slammed by a hot desert wind might wake a lonely man into a new life. They are demotic, lived, and, without being sentimental, hopeful that our little span of being human matters after all.” DOUG ANDERSON, Poet-in-Residence at Ft. Juniper, Amherst, Massachusetts, instructor in poetry at Emerson and Smith Colleges

“If the forbidding and starkly beautiful American Southwest were condensed to the nuances of language, Alfier would be its quintessential oracle...I know of no poet writing today who handles the demanding form of syllabics (while consistently maintaining line integrity) with the consummate artistry of Alfier. Without any hesitation whatsoever, I give this fine collection of poems my highest recommendation.” LARRY D. THOMAS, Member, Texas Institute of Letters, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate

“Each poem is a testament to Alfier’s unflinching observations and hard-fought love of the Southwest. This is a rich portrait of a stunning landscape…The Wolf Yearling is a gift.” KEITH EKISS, author of Puma Road Notebook

Find THE WOLF YEARLING at Amazon.com.

Silver Birch Press congratulates Jeffrey C. Alfier for his 2013 Pushcart Prize nomination. 

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THE DESERT RANCHER ON SUNDAY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Winds release clouds from the tread of drifting
but buoy the arcs of loitering hawks.
 
It’s so quiet he swears he hears sunlight,
Chihuahuan sage blossoming in clusters.
 
Where his footfalls impel a warbler’s flight,
distant church bells summon their own echoes.
 
He kneels, presses palms to parched tractor ruts
that angle off into wind-runneled fields.
 
Thin soil keeps him for another season,
the ground made of nothing his hands won’t hold.

…”The Desert Rancher on Sunday” appears in the Silver Birch Press release The Wolf Yearling, a collection of poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier, available at Amazon.com.

For his inspired poetry in The Wolf Yearling, Silver Birch press will nominate Jeffrey Alfier for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey C. Alfier is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and was a 2010 nominee for the UK’s Forward Prize for Poetry. In 2012, he was nominated for a Breadloaf scholarship. In 2006, he received honorable mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize, and in 2005 won first place awards from the Redrock Writer’s Guild of Utah and the Arizona State Poetry Society. He holds an MA in Humanities from California State University at Dominguez Hills. Having served twenty-seven years in the U.S. Air Force, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Alfier’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals and his chapbooks include Offloading the Wounded (2009), Before the Troubadour Exits (2010), The Gathering Light at San Cataldo (2012), and The City Without Her (2012). He serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review

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THE DESERT RANCHER ON SUNDAY
by Jeffrey Alfier

Winds release clouds from the tread of drifting
but buoy the arcs of loitering hawks.
 
It’s so quiet he swears he hears sunlight,
Chihuahuan sage blossoming in clusters.
 
Where his footfalls impel a warbler’s flight,
distant church bells summon their own echoes.
 
He kneels, presses palms to parched tractor ruts
that angle off into wind-runneled fields.
 
Thin soil keeps him for another season,
the ground made of nothing his hands won’t hold.

…”The Desert Rancher on Sunday” appears in the Silver Birch Press release The Wolf Yearling, a collection of poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier, available at Amazon.com.

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Silver Birch Press is pleased to announce the May 16, 2013 release of THE WOLF YEARLING, a collection of poetry by Jeffrey C. Alfier.

Jeffrey C. Alfier acquired a keen poetic vision from years of living and traveling throughout the Southwest. Composed mainly in syllabic verse, The Wolf Yearling exhibits strict attention to tightly controlled language that renders, in rich imagism, American deserts and mountains, the plains of the Trans-Pecos, border towns, and the sandy soils of east Texas.

Poem from THE WOLF YEARLING…

LATE LIGHT IN THE SANTA CRUZ VALLEY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

If you can dismiss the moon’s pale ascent
you might hear wingbeats in the fading light,
dusk calling hawks to perch in cottonwoods
and toll a deadpan vigilance eastward
toward sierras that ruddle to shadows.
 
These hawks are connoisseurs of what it takes
to die when small prey barters noonday sun
for nightfall’s cooling of dry riverbeds,
waiting out the heat under my trailer.
Canted on one wheel, it tilts back to earth.

REVIEWS: 

“Alfier’s sharp lyrics come upon you like a door slammed by a hot desert wind might wake a lonely man into a new life. They are demotic, lived, and, without being sentimental, hopeful that our little span of being human matters after all.” DOUG ANDERSON, Poet-in-Residence at Ft. Juniper, Amherst, Massachusetts, instructor in poetry at Emerson and Smith Colleges

“If the forbidding and starkly beautiful American Southwest were condensed to the nuances of language, Alfier would be its quintessential oracle...I know of no poet writing today who handles the demanding form of syllabics (while consistently maintaining line integrity) with the consummate artistry of Alfier. Without any hesitation whatsoever, I give this fine collection of poems my highest recommendation.” LARRY D. THOMAS, Member, Texas Institute of Letters, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate

“Each poem is a testament to Alfier’s unflinching observations and hard-fought love of the Southwest. This is a rich portrait of a stunning landscape…The Wolf Yearling is a gift.” KEITH EKISS, author of Puma Road Notebook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey C. Alfier is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a 2010 nominee for the UK’s Forward Prize for Poetry. In 2012, he was nominated for a Breadloaf scholarship. In 2006, he received honorable mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize, and in 2005 won first place awards from the Redrock Writer’s Guild of Utah and the Arizona State Poetry Society. He holds an MA in Humanities from California State University at Dominguez Hills. Having served twenty-seven years in the U.S. Air Force, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Alfier’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals and his chapbooks include Offloading the Wounded (2009), Before the Troubadour Exits (2010), The Gathering Light at San Cataldo (2012), and The City Without Her (2012). He serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review

Find THE WOLF YEARLING at Amazon.com.

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Jeffrey C. Alfier, author of the upcoming Silver Birch Press poetry release THE WOLF YEARLING reads from a proof copy of the book at the Poetry Society of Texas Poetry and Music Festival on Saturday, May 10th, in Midland, Texas.

THE WOLF YEARLING, an 82-page poetry chapbook, will be available by the end of May 2013. In the meantime, here’s a poem from the collection.

MY GREAT AUNT SPEAKS OF NIGHTS IN HARDIN COUNTY
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Preachers said God made Texas nights this dark.
That’s no comfort to girls home by themselves.
She could hear tongues and praises loud outside;
old wives, children, men of coal or lumber —
lots of folks shouting and carrying on,
given more to water-witching than prayer
come first light. It’s how folks fought loneliness.

 
Beyond the plank steeples rising in swamps,
this fur trader’s daughter spent nights alone,
her father trudging forgotten dirt trails 
impassable to anything with wheels.
Bound for some reclusive trapper’s cabin
he’d return by way of any roadhouse,
stumbling past the decay of tenant shacks.

 
She recalls those nights squinting through windows
waiting for his shadow to reemerge
soaked with rain and pelts — a feral hunter.
The last time I paid her a call, blindness
was slowly dimming her central vision.
Sometimes a stray voice makes her turn and look,
rain tapping glass like a startled stranger.

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Jeffrey C. Alfier, author of the upcoming Silver Birch Press poetry release THE WOLF YEARLING (late May 2013)  — will appear on Saturday, May 11th at a poetry festival in Midland, Texas, sponsored by the Poetry Society of Texas.

WHAT: The Permian Basin Chapter of the Poetry Society of Texas Poetry and Music Festval featuring poetry readings and book signings

WHEN: Saturday, May 11, 2013,  3-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Ground Floor, 203 W. Wall Street, Midland, Texas

The event will also feature readings by Amy Johnson King, Larry D. Thomas (2008 Texas Poet Laureate), Loretta Diane Walker, Connie Lane Williams, H. Glen Walton, Opalina Salas, Carlos Salas, Josh Weir, Darla McBryde, Kelly Ann Ellis, BeccaLynn, Tobi Cogswell, Claire Vogel, and Jocelyn Mosman.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey C. Alfier is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a 2010 nominee for the UK’s Forward Prize for Poetry. In 2012, he was nominated for a Breadloaf scholarship. In 2006, he received honorable mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize, and in 2005 won first place awards from the Redrock Writer’s Guild of Utah and the Arizona State Poetry Society. He holds an MA in Humanities from California State University at Dominguez Hills. Having served twenty-seven years in the U.S. Air Force, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Alfier’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals and his chapbooks include Offloading the Wounded (2009), Before the Troubadour Exits (2010), The Gathering Light at San Cataldo (2012), and The City Without Her (2012). He serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review. Silver Birch Press will release his poetry collection, THE WOLF YEARLING, in late May 2013.