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Inner Cities of Gulls / JP Dancing Bear

Inner Cities of Gulls

By: JP Dancing Bear

€12.00
Winner of a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award 2011 Throughout Inner Cities of Gulls, whether penetrating the natural world or the historical one, whether in love poems or in poems that explore other 'inner weather' of the human heart, J. P. Dancing Bear reveals a certain kind of earned wisdom. Sometimes summoning the voices of mythical persons, sometimes raising his own powerful voice, this poet lends insight...
ISBN 978-1-907056-23-9
Pub Date Monday, March 15, 2010
Page Count 82
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Winner of a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award 2011

Throughout Inner Cities of Gulls, whether penetrating the natural world or the historical one, whether in love poems or in poems that explore other 'inner weather' of the human heart, J. P. Dancing Bear reveals a certain kind of earned wisdom. Sometimes summoning the voices of mythical persons, sometimes raising his own powerful voice, this poet lends insight to our sometimes faulty assumptions about the way life should be lived. 'I could change light / and substance into any gift,' claims the speaker of 'The Dark Current.' The poems in this compelling collection are themselves such a gift.
Andrea Hollander Budy

J. P. Dancing Bear writes new myths for our times through a cornucopia of characters, from Prospero as a TV weatherman to Jesuses of the street. Inner Cities of Gulls contains powerfully moving poems that are restlessly inventive and always life affirming. They celebrate both the natural world and the trance of traffic, displaying his trademark range.
Pascale Petit

JP Dancing Bear

Fishing Singing Foxes is J. P. Dancing Bear’s fifteenth collection of poems.  He is editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press, and founding editor of DMQ Review and American Poetry Journal (APJ). His book Cephalopodic won the Glass Lyre Press 2014 Kithara Prize. His book Inner City of Gulls (Salmon Poetry) won PEN Oakland’s Josephine Miles Literary Award 2011. His chapbook What Language was winner of the 2002 Slipstream Prize. His work has appeared in thousands of magazines and anthologies around the world and translated into Chinese. He has translated Nicaraguan poet, Blanca Castellon, and Mexican poet, Oscar Wong. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, writer and poet, C. J. Sage, his beloved cat, Zeus, and several rescued hounds.

Prospero, King of the City

The city vibrates. The city purrs.  Prospero has taken
to divining the future with Scrabble tiles.
He reclines on the bed in his penthouse; the afternoon
sun picking up speed before its inevitable crash. 
The smell from the wharf wafts through the window.
On the street below, a drunk in a tailored suit argues
with a doorman about a dream of great ruined cities in the West.
People sound to Prospero like cartoon characters.

Someone honks a car horn, as if to signify the start
of a great migration north.  There is a screech of brakes,
the pounding on the hood, yelling and more honking. 
San Francisco is beginning to crumble into the sea.
It is because Prospero has messed the tiles up again.
At the curb comes a rumor about a rain of toads.
People on the street are strutting with a hip-hop gait
now-suggesting something great but final.

It's Christmas Eve; there's not another Scrabble set left
in the stores.  The city's veins are trancing with traffic. 
Lights smudge as fog creeps in through the Sunset district. 
The cartoon men have everything Prospero ever wanted
or thought he deserved.  They're laughing, belting out carols
as they huddle around a garbagecan fire, sharing a bottle.
A fat three-fingered hand throws in one wooden tile at a time-
someone calls out X and another ten points goes on the pyre.


Copyright © JP Dancing Bear 2010
Review: Inner Cities of Gulls reviewed by by Vince Gotera, in North American Review, Fall 2010, v.295

J. P. Dancing Bear is renowned for the verve and freshness of his images and stories, and Inner Cities of Gulls adds to that reputation. This book stars a fascinating ensemble cast: Shakespeare's Prospero and Caliban; Sisyphus and Perseus; Hamlet and Ophelia, the homeless, "sick, suffering, sleeping Jesuses of the street"; and many more-enmeshed in surprising landscapes of brittle beauty. Orpheus descends into hell's "shifting coastline of ebony fires," surrounded by "the noise of shattering glass, twisting metal," conflating ancient and modern imagery. Some of the more compelling poems here are connected to Native American history and symbology. "A Brief Informal History" tells us that instead of a Houdini, "There was Jim Thorpe, who ran in circles // better than anyone else. He ran like a caged wolf." This caging can be glimpsed throughout pop culture: "the names of our fathers embossed in chrome / on the fenders of cars, on the labels of alcohol, / in the lonely glow of neon above cafes:' Even those who would be escape artists, "Those boys who went to war / and fought like there might be a freedom hidden / somewhere in blood," find on their return that they "went back to being unneeded as a stone ... petroglyph for all that is lost." This book is a kind of petroglyph, a lasting image, that re-creates new mythologies to show not only what is lost but what can be and must be regained.

Other Titles from JP Dancing Bear

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