Reviews of Work by Charles Entrekin
What Remains by Charles Entrekin
130 pages, retail price $17.00
"Like a magic spell of memory and language, Entrekin's poetry creates existential scene after scene - his own, his family's, his suicidal first wife's - breathing and blooming out from Alabama mud. How does he do it? Rich with sensuous detail amazingly remembered, yet amazingly transparent as a lightbeam into a human soul, "because what opens at the beginning/ remains open until the end," it is one man's story in 20th century America, but it's more than that. Reading these poems feels as if I have added a whole other life to my own."
- Alicia Ostriker (Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and Former New York Poet Laureate)
What strikes me, in particular, about Entrekin's poems is how well, and often in a surprising way, he ends poems. Time after time they open out, and everything before (already compelling) is illumined or enriched.
- Sena Jeter Naslund (Author of New York Times Notable Books Ahab's Wife  and Four Spirits  and Former Kentucky Poet Laureate)
In What Remains, poet Charles Entrekin pares his life back to a profound moral core that balances between judgment and acceptance. If there is a Zen in Americana, this is it.
- Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Author of Navigating the Divide (Alan Squire Publishing, 2020) and The Hand of Buddha (Coffee House Press, 2000)
"What Remains" is a beautiful, heart-wrenching book.
Reading these poems in the presence of bees and hummingbirds, it seemed a very Southern morning, vivid in being something of "what remains."
"The Fox in the Woods" begins, "My grandfather used to tell me / about the animals in the woods on his land / but I could never see them.”
"Then one day, my grandfather whispered / to me it was time— / I should go down into the woods / to the old logging bridge, to see / if the forest creatures would speak to me."
Eventually some of them do, including a red fox who walks right up to the boy.
It is a long, transformative moment, broken by what becomes an awakening to what it means to be part of the forest.
Many of the poems follow the boy's father, whose love is mixed with rivalry and violence.
The story of this father is so well done. It’s tribute to his implacable toughness makes the reader feel, about the boy, "how did you survive this?" Then the reader feels the son’s own greater toughness, which manifests in the beauty of these poems, and even more impressively in the love and balance the grown-up son has achieved.
Line by line one feels that Alabama is the obstacle, yet somehow not the enemy.
In his earlier books, Charles Entrekin was sometimes close to the raw experience of his youth, or was writing about his life far away from the South. In this book he has the immediacy of his whole life right before him, and before the reader, with perhaps something like a new measure of objective kindness in tone and style.
- John L. Wallin
"What Remains" – Charles Entrekin's latest, is a hauntingly beautiful collection of remembrance. The poems tell the story of coming of age in Alabama through the 40s and 50s. Entriken tells the reader of what Alabama gave him, took from him, made of him, and left him with. The writer's voice rings through these pages; not always at peace, but always with love and hope for the people of a world still, somehow, called home. The book pulls at me, reminds me of how hard the world can be, and how fortunate we are to be part of it. Thank you Charles for reminding me how to be human.
- Bill Gainer
I read most books of poetry a few poems at a time, but this wonderful offering reads like a page turner novel and I couldn't put it down from beginning to end. Charles takes the reader on a personal and historical journal through places I have never traveled, Alabama and beyond. To see the world through such sensitive and wise eyes is a real treasure.
- Karla Arens
The Art of Healing by Charles Entrekin and Gail Rudd Entrekin
49 pages, price $16.25
The Art of Healing: an Inside Look!
The Art of Healing poignantly details the struggle that poets Charles Entrekin and his wife, Gail Rudd Entrekin, experience due to Charles’ cancer, and how the battle draws them closer. This is true despite distances they sometimes feel growing between them due to the differences in their circumstances. Charles, for instance, feels blindsided as “when the Asian girl runs a red light / hits us at speed just / as we are making a left turn for the freeway home.” Conversely Gail finds that cancer has altered Charles' appearance so that he hardly resembles the mate she has known, and ironically his new looks seem to personify cancer, giving it the body of a "querulous old man with his pointy hat, his knobby walking stick / curl-toed shoes, pulling behind him the next installment of [Gail’s] life…"
These distances include Charles having to face the prospect of imminent death while Gail must face the notion that she may need to begin a new life on her own. Bonds of love, however, hold them together, despite aspects of their plight that each must face alone.
The poems here often respond to each other, another richness of the book, with Charles, for instance, "witness[ing] the green sheen / of tree moss / in winter rain/" while Gail feels "out of prison" on the very next page, both "on parole" and "getting better at climbing out of the pot…"
The title is The Art of Healing, though the book exhibits the art of writing too. It is so finely wrought with a spareness that cuts deep into what was felt, with just enough to visualize in the poems to see other "things" unmentioned but there as well. This book by two seasoned poets in the fertile valley of their craft reveals valleys of the human psyche and soul but hint at mountain tops too.
- Rodney Torreson
A great and unique work, told in the side by side voices of husband and wife lyric poets.
"The Art of Healing" is an unforgettable tale of the art of living, told with honesty, grace, wisdom, and love by Charles and Gail, husband and wife, both accomplished lyric poets, who suddenly fall into the land of cancer, he as patient, she as spouse. Their side by side poems are filled with unforgettable lines. Charles describes chemo as "sixteen weeks of treks/over mountains of sand, and/you stand, ragged, an empty coat, facing an unknown land/that stretches into the future/boundless and bare." Gail yearns to shelter Charles: "I'd like to…/put you down my dress/where no one sees/ keep my silver hand on you/ all day wherever I run.” In another poem, she wants to “…put cancer in a high chair and feed it/scraps from the table, nominate cancer/for president because it is even-handed/and blind." Feeling safe in a hot tub, Charles observes a mantis snagging a bumblebee. Unexpectedly, the bee breaks free: "As the black bee takes the air,/something inside me sees/a second chance,/the life I have not yet lived."
- Diane Ray
Two Hearts as One
I have read and reread The Art of Healing. This was too much for me to absorb in one reading…like listening to a complex piece of music…challenging yet beautiful. Every time I listen is a new time…I hear more, feel more. This is every person's song, a song that one day all must sing. Will my song be as lovely as Charles' and Gail's? Why wait? I think I will start singing now…a song for living…a song for love.
Thinking about the Art of Healing, I am drawn to the Chopin Waltz in A flat major, Op.69 No.1. Although written in a major key, the waltz for me weaves a foreboding mood through the sweetness, a quality that I find only in Chopin. No matter, we keep on waltzing in the moment…breathing in…breathing out…itself a joyful rhythm.
I wonder why more poets have not "teamed up" to share mutual experiences? How different The Art of Healing would be if it included only one perspective, yet how rich it is when Charles and Gail sing their songs together, two hearts as one.
- Murray in Georgia
The Art of Reading the Art of Healing
I recently received "the Art of Healing." At this writing I've read as far as "Prognosis" because I'm so affected by Gail and Charles's courage, talent and love I have to keep stopping. I too have experienced that twisted force that regenerates itself in our bodies long before we even know it's there. And then it pushes to the point it can't be denied. I want to rant at it on your behalf. On my behalf. Maybe I will when I finish the book. But I have to push through the tears.
- Elizabeth Appell
Listening: New & Selected Work by Charles Entrekin
137 pages, price $17.00
Entrekin's "Listening" is the poetic summing up of a life fully lived, a summarizing of its moments, some filled with delight, some with pain. The author writes his dreams, his relationships, his children, his friends. These poems wander along rivers, among hills. They gaze out windows, they examine death and survival. Like the seagull in "For No Reason," they are the author's leaning against time as he makes his way. ("And now, a sea gull, only one leg/stands before us on the beach/he uses the wind as his crutch/precariously balanced/until he takes the air.")
This collection marks Entrekin's journey as a writer and as a man over at least four decades. The poems are intimate, thoughtful, humorous, lovely, and in many cases provocative.
In one of his new works, "Hay Stacker," Entrekin remembers the hard work of haying on his grandfather's farm. Reclining atop the full hay wagon at the end of a hot day, the young poet snatches a pear as the wagon passes beneath a pear tree. He tastes its sweet juice and feels the rush of being completely in that moment, "while the future waited/and I was carried on the harvest to the barn." "Listening" is indeed a harvest. It is a collection to celebrate.
-Gary M. Cooke
Entitled "Listening," this book could also be called "Feeling" or "Reflecting" or perhaps, "The sharing of a life experienced by a man who's articulate, sensitive, brilliant, funny, and courageous." I guess "Listening" to that man may well be the most concise choice.
This is not a book you cruise through on your lunch hour. Some of the entries make you laugh out loud, but some make you close the book, close your eyes, and revisit your memories.
Charles Entrekin's poems from the past evoke images of the South, images of Montana, and images of partnering and parenting. His most recent work confronts the terror of cancer. I thank the Gods of Poetry that he has survived.
This collection is a treasure chest of well-polished gems. I'll visit and re-visit them many times.
In The Next Life by Joan Baranow
87 pages, $17.00
In The Next Life by Joan Baranow from Poetic Matrix Press (2019) is the work of a mature and sure poetic voice developed over years of reading and introspection. At times, as in "Light Climber," Baranow writes a subtle counterpoint to a familiar poem (in this case "Ars Poetica" by MacLeish) exposing the benefit of a lifetime of reading. At other times, Baranow is creating an unflinching record of the small moments, the now, now, and now, that make up a life passing by at what seems to be an ever- increasing speed. There is a beauty in each of these captured moments that reminds me of the small smooth stones that I skipped across the surface of lakes as a child. I will carry many on these poems, as I used to carry those stones, believing that if I launch them at a proper angle into this darkening world, they will defy gravity and the other forces pulling me down.
- James A. Perkins
Realization Point by Chris Hoffman
113 pages, price $17.00
I am happy to report that I had a new poem appear in the recent Summer Issue of Sufi Journal and have another accepted for publication next June in Appalachia. I am quite happy about both of these. In case you haven't seen it, Sufi Journal is a gorgeous magazine, glossy, with high production values that is sold in many bookstores as well as by subscription. Appalachia is probably the oldest magazine publishing nature poetry and it is very selective - perhaps a dozen poems a year. Mary Oliver was published there a lot. I hope both of these will help book sales. I continue to submit poems to other publications.
Meanwhile, the publisher of my ecopsychology book (The Hoop and the Tree) has recently been bought by a new publisher and I am working to interest the new publisher in re-issuing my book with an added chapter. Also, you saw my recent email about a web interview about this book. The interview garnered a lot of positive comments and some book sales. I'm hoping this will spill over into some poetry sales as well.
- Chris Hoffman
Chronicles in Passing by Carol Smallwood
Paperback: 102 pages
Poetic Matrix Press, 2019
"Our world's one mostly we don't see," Carol Smallwood reminds us in this excellent collection that considers a diverse array of large and small wonders about us, reminding us to witness and chronicle what we see in the world, as well as "in our mind's eye during solitude."
- Robert Fanning, Professor, Central Michigan University: author of Severance; Our Sudden Museum; American Prophet; The Seed Thieves
News of the Day
by John Peterson (Author)
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book of Poetry
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2009 on Amazon.com
I can't begin to say how wonderful a book of poetry this is. Some people take one's breath away with their use of words, others with their sheer brilliance - this book is the work of an excellent poetic soul who just happens to write poetry.To me it was in the touch, the poetic sensibility. You read, and are aware that things which you've seen ten- thousand times, you never really had seen before. There's no strain. The presentation is so deft as to be imperceptible. It's not what poems to recommend - they're all like seeing a master at his/her craft. There's a second nature aspect about them which mesmerizes. Peterson in these poems, which span forty years, from Vietnam to the present, takes us on a quiet, humble journey that only the best poetry can intimate.
Ashley Pinkerton - Spiraling Forward
A Dance through the Cycles of Life (posted 6/2017)
James Downs Memorial
I have some difficult news to pass on. James Downs passed away on October 10th after a non-Covide illness. My love goes out to Joyce and his family and I miss him terribly. A friend likes James is a great gift and I cherish the time we had together. Our press project would not have existed without James.
I met James shortly after starting work in Yosemite National Park. Meeting James was a fortuitous event in my life. We began meeting at Degan's Deli for morning lattes and began conversations that continued for months and then years. We talked about myriad topics including philosophy, politics, music, literature, and poetry. His depth and ease of conversation was enlivening and eventually lead to beginning Poetic Matrix Press. James had been creating small handwritten poetry books (3 X 4 inches) of his poetry.
We went on to do chapbooks of his, mine and other's poetry. After these we started producing full length paperback books. Starting with his book Merge with the River, Brandon Cesmat's Driven into the Shade, Tomas Gayton's Winds of Change and my book Dark Hills and Wild Mountains, and over 80 books in 23 years; the Press continues. James began an on-going series of live events titled Words Performance in Yosemite with poetry and music. The series continued for many years.
During this time James met Joyce and their love blossomed. Laurene and I had the great privilege of hosting their wedding on our property in Madera, California. They were wed under a giant Willow Tree by the creek with 70 friends and family. What a joy this day was. They eventually bought a place in Sonora and with Joyce's daughters lived a good life.
Needless to say - Joyce misses James profoundly. They met each other later in life and were graced with many beautiful years together. James told me many, many times how lucky he was to have found Joyce and how great his love for her was. I'm sure that love continues in this crazy universe we inhabit. Love truly does go on.
My son Devon has started a Go Fund Me campaign to assist James' family. I invite you to support Joyce and Family; you can add a note if you chose. Please go to our Go Fund Me campaign.
Joyce and I will be putting out a memorial volume of James' poetry after the new year. I will miss his counsel and beautiful decency.
"Travel well my friend!" - John
The Passing of Lyn Lifhsin
Some weeks ago I found out that Lyn Lifshin had passed. Our Press had the privilege of publishing two of Lyn's many books of poetry: Katrina in 2010 and Malala in 2014. I first became aware of Lyn back in the 70's when I was looking at small poetry journals, some no more then 3" X 5" and 10 pages with work from young poets. Lyn Lifshin kept showing up. After starting the Poetic Matrix Newsletter Lyn sent in pieces. She was named the Queen of Small Presses because she sought out presses like ours to support. Eventually we got to publish two books with her. I never got to meet her in person but did get to work with her extensively and it was a pleasure. To you Lyn and that sweet, beautiful voice that now fills the hearts of us all.
John Peterson, Publisher
Published in The Washington Post from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, 2019
Last week on December 9, 2019, Lyn Lifshin of Niskayuna, NY passed away at the home of her friend Albert Jordan in Vienna, VA following illness and a fall. Lyn was a poet who had written over 130 books and chapbooks and edited four anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines. She has given more than 700 readings across the USA and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum and Huntington Library. Lyn also taught poetry at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award, she is the subject of the documentary film "Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass." For her dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any academic institution, she has earned the distinction "Queen of the Small Presses." Perhaps it was Robert Frost who helped launch her lifetime of poetry when in her childhood he complemented her poetry. She has also been praised by Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as "a modern Emily Dickinson." She recently was named a Literary Legend by the Albany NY Public Library Foundation. She also developed a passion for dancing-ballet, ballroom and Argentine tango. A celebration of her life is being planned in Schenectady, NY for May/June. Please send remembrances and expressions of interest in the celebration of life to Lyn@LynLifshin.com.
So Many Voices
Edited by John Peterson, James Downs & Joe Milosch
Cover art by Molly Weller
Poetic Matrix Press' 20th Anniversary Authors' Anthology So Many Voices. With material from our 60 books and 45 authors (including new pieces from many) this is a true reflection of So Many Voices that we have had the privilege of publishing. This is an interesting and beautiful compliment to our publishing efforts.
PMP Over the Years
Muir Ramble Route
Now is the time to get Peter and Donna Thomas' hiking guide, Muir Ramble Route. This is a detailed guide to John Muir's original walk from San Francisco to Yosemite in 1868. The Thomases have researched and written out this guide along with Muir's writings on this walk drawn from his various accounts. They also add their account as they walked in Muir's footsteps. Get this guide now and plan all or part of the hike, the best time is in mid to late spring when the wild flowers are blooming along the way.
Muir Ramble Route
by Peter and Donna Thomas
187 pages, retail price $19.50
Maps, Photos, Drawings
A companion book:
write your account of your own hike.
Nature Journal with John Muir
A Writing and Sketching Journal
edited by Bonnie Gisel
160 pages, retail price $16.00
Available from Bored Feet Press and from the publisher. Look for them at REI.
He Named Me Malala
Malala by Lyn Lifshin
127 pages, price $17.00
A new film about Malala is in theaters, He Named Me Malala, Directed by Davis Guggenheim. Check it out and check out our title.
As most of us know by now Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani young woman who was shot by the Taliban in 2012, was chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 along with Indian child advocate Kailash Satyarthi. Though her injuries were significant, she recovered and has become an even more powerful advocate for the rights of girls and all children to have a good education. Her voice has become even more important worldwide.
In 2014 our press had the great opportunity to publish Lyn Lifshin's beautiful tribute to Malala. In this tribute to Malala Yousafzai, Lyn uses her gift of poetry to take us through Malala's recent life experience, the attempted assassination by the Taliban and Malala's recovery. "This is not journalism, rather it is a work that is best suited for poetry, a deeply personal work where the poet reveals, through compassion and insight, some moments of revelation."
To assist Malala in her efforts on behalf of the girls of the world join the Malala Fund, co-founded by Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, at www.malala.org.
Poetic Matrix Press and Lyn Lifshin will donate a portion of the proceeds on the sale of Malala to the Malala Fund.
If poets and lovers of poetry don't write, publish, read, and purchase poetry books then we will have no say in the quality of our contemporary culture and no excuse for the abuses of language, ideas, truth, beauty, and love in our cultural life.