6 x 9; 75 pages, $16.95
Stuart Kestenbaum’s Only Now is a rare accomplishment: a collection of poems that takes on the fragility of the world and our own mortality, and does so with unflinching directness and, most impressively, with wit and a sincere prayerfulness. Many of these poems are what I would call strangely hopeful warnings, elegies-in-advance. They worry about the world in ways that register the beauty of what is in danger of being diminished.
“. . . even pears in cans, all come from someplace,” Stuart Kestenbaum tells us, tells himself in a rush of wonder as he walks the supermarket’s bright aisles. And we are miraculously, wryly back to seeds, milkweed, hillsides, what beauty the wind delivers, even plastic bags from the trash inflated, distantly afloat. This deeply metaphysical poet is the e-connect between the sacred and the profane (e for ecstatic, e for remember: this moment is eternal). Which is to say, everything’s invited into these meditative poems--worry next to stars “turning themselves on and off,” grief next to joy, a patient, grateful surprise that we keep breathing at all. Relish what he sees, then cherish it.
Stuart Kestenbaum, the 5th Maine State Poet Laureate, is the author of four collections of poems, most recently, Only Now (Deerbrook Editions), Prayers and Run-on Sentences (Deerbrook Editions), House of Thanksgiving (Deerbrook Editions), and Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press). He has also written The View from Here (Brynmorgen Press), a book of brief essays on craft and community.
Stuart Kestenbaum has written and spoken widely on craft making and creativity, and his poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines including Tikkun, the Sun, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and others and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.
He was the director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine for over twenty-five years, and was elected an honorary fellow of the American Craft Council in 2006.
Former US poet laureate Ted Kooser has written “Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read, heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life. No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but life, pure life, set down with craft and love.”