The Accidental Navigator
Author: Henry Denander
Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6X9
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301) www.lummoxpress.com
Publishing Date: Sept. 2011
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We know that a poem, once it is written, takes on a life of its own, and the person who wrote it fades into the woodwork. Each time my eyes glide down a page of this man I see someone completely unconcerned with any of this, who is just walking along and reporting. His poems have the warmth, good humor, and eye for the telling detail of the best correspondence; those letters we save in some place or other because they are too beautiful and necessary to lose.
—Tom Kryss (from the introduction)
ABOUT HENRY DENANDER
HENRY DENANDER was born in 1952 and lives in
Stockholm, Sweden and on Hydra Island in Greece. For over 25 years he has worked
on the business side of the entertainment industry. He is also the editor of
Henry Denander’s books are I know What She Will Say (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2003), Weeks Like This (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2005), Bring Down The Sun (ArtBureau, 2005), The Poetry of Mr. Blue (Bottle of Smoke Press, 2007), The Loulaki Bar (Miskwabik Press, 2009),
His first poem was published in 1999 and now he’s had over two hundred poems and many illustrations published in small press magazines and on the web. He’s been published mainly in America but also in places like Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, India and the UK. He has a website with poetry and art at www.henrydenander.com
Reading through this monumental collection of Henry Denander’s poems I realize that he has taken his place in my pantheon of favorite contemporary American poets, alongside such as Edward Field, Charles Bukowski, Ron Koertge, Edward Field, and Billy Collins . . . and, astonishingly, he isn’t even American—he’s Swedish. But he has somehow mastered our conversational idiom, our easy humor, and our perennial subjects: childhood, children, friends, a second home (Greece), reading, eating, drinking, jazz, the simple pleasures, the inevitable battles with illness and aging. No one speaks in a more relaxed style. He isn’t “just” a poet either: he’s a prized illustrator and watercolorist, an accomplished prose storyteller, a perceptive collector and publisher. And he takes it all in stride, as modest and unaffected as his congenial stanzas. I loved reading these poems when they first appeared in periodicals. I have returned to them with profound nostalgia. I’m sure there are many more to come, but these alone would constitute a life’s achievement. These are quite simply great poems. Additionally, he has been, from the start, a loyal friend . . . and I have never even met him.
Here are a few poems from this volume...
It was like seeing a ghost walking the port
My friend the American painter pointed him out to me, he was standing
with his back to us, wearing the kind of clothes that his father liked to use;
the blue and white T-shirt with the horizontal broad stripes and a pair of
black shorts. The hair short and cut just like his father’s.
My friend greeted the entourage, made up of a wife and children
grandchildren, and when Claude Picasso turned towards us it was
just like seeing the face of his father, the same profile, the same look.
When I came back from the hospital
I wanted to tell my son about what
they had done to me;
I’d suffered from a really painful
kidney stone and I had rushed
to the hospital to get it removed.
I told him there’d been one doctor and
two nurses present and I was about to tell how
they had performed a cystoscopy; by inserting a
long instrument through my very private parts
they had removed the stone from my bladder.
I told my 10-year old son
the nurses had started by cleaning
William interrupted me:
- Did there really have to be two nurses to do that? he said
It was a good question.
At the racetrack
On eBay I bought four whisky glasses from
Santa Anita Park; this was Charles Bukowski’s
favorite race track and he spent a lot of time there.
I’ve never betted on the horses myself but there was
a race track close to our summer house in Sweden
and I went there when I was a kid.
I never really liked to watch the horses run but
I came to see my uncle Allan who was a
regular at the track. I liked him a lot and he
always gave me money for ice cream,
so even without betting I came out ahead.
And now, 45 years later, here I am
with my large Santa Anita whisky tumbler
with the engraved horses and jockeys,
a couple of ice cubes and a large splash
of Glenlivet whisky.
Maybe I’m slowly
beginning to understand
the art of horseracing