The "Poet Laureate of working people" David Salner returns with a collection dedicated to the dignity of labor and pursuit of dreams.
The title of David Salner’s volume of new and selected poems alludes to a story told by Plutarch of a land where winter is so cold that words freeze when spoken, audible only later with the thaw of summer. His are the poems of this thaw, as he gives voice to stories suspended in memory and history, specifically working-class history, beginning with his Hungarian grandparents sailing to a New World “brilliant with vagueness” in its promise of dreams attainable through work and struggle. These largely are poems of labor and laborers still in pursuit of such dreams, of the mines and mills and farms and forests where he has worked and of those he met along the way, a mosaic of an America where he has “gotten crazy / in towns that no longer exist.” (The librarian is here too, in poems referencing Melville and Galileo’s daughter among others out of the world of words.) These poems are themselves the product of dedicated labor, precise in their workmanship and attention to detail. More than anything, there is a real affection in these pages, for the dignity of work and the satisfaction at the end of a hard day: “if I still smoked / I’d pass a crush-proof pack to you, and we’d / exhale the dust and watch it circle / toward a dying sun, the two of us.”
“David Salner is the Poet Laureate of working people. All his poems display the craft of a fine poet and the heart of a fine human being. His necessary work is essential reading. To have his best work gathered in one volume is a gift to be treasured.” —William Heath, author of Steel Valley Elegy
“Rarely can we enter a book twice and on the second trip, be moved more than the first. Here, Salner proves it can be done and it can be simple and it can be so very disastrously beautiful.” —Jorge Evans in Blue Earth Review
“David Salner is a storyteller at heart whose poems are redolent with the power of understatement and close observation…. Salner’s lines have the taste and smell of truth…. These are elemental poems, close to the earth and man’s struggle with it, on it, and in it, and with each other.” —Greg McBride, editor, Innisfree Poetry Journal
“Depicts the lives of working men and women with empathy but without sentimentality…. Salner’s work honors the material realities of the demanding “here” in which so many people live and work.” —Now & Then, Appalachian heritage magazine
“These poems ache their way toward revelation with a startling clarity and brilliance.” —Elizabeth Knapp, winner 2018 Robert H. Winner Award from Poetry Society of America
SUMMER WORDS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS is David Salner's fifth poetry collection. His writing also appears in noted magazines including Threepenny Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, North American Review, and Ploughshares. His novel, A Place to Hide, won first place for historical fiction from Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Salner was honored with grants from the Puffin Foundation, the Dr. Henry P. and Page Laughlin Fund, and two from the Maryland State Arts Council. He won the 2016 Lascaux Prize for Poetry and the Oboh Prize. He has received nine Pushcart Prize nominations and on three separate occasions Garrison Keillor read Salner's work on the NPR show Writer's Almanac. He has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has worked all over the country as iron ore miner, steelworker, machinist, bus driver, cab driver, garment laborer, longshoreman, teacher, and librarian. He was also an usher for minor league baseball. His coworkers have had a deep impact on his writing. He lives in Millsboro, Delaware with his wife, Barbara Greenway. In their free time, they enjoy the ocean and visits with their daughter and son- in-law.
Author City: MILLSBORO, DE USA