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Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57131-417-8
Pages: 152
Publish Date: February 2004
Genre: Poetry

Playing the Black Piano

BY Bill Holm

In this new collection, noted essayist Bill Holm (Coming Home Crazy, Eccentric Islands, The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth) returns to his true love—poetry. Like a modern-day Walt Whitman bestriding America and the world, Holm comments on the waywardness and promise of the human species. Playing the Black Piano reflects Holm’s time in Iceland (his ancestral home), his ongoing love affair with music, a friend’s death from AIDS, and his bold reactions to the world around him. Moving from Oregon forests to the deserts around Tucson, from the endless marketing of long-distance telephone service to the experience of undergoing an MRI, the poems speak of this man’s full embrace of the world and his passion for living well.



The Chain Letter of the Soul

Collecting the best and the newest poems from Bill Holm's oeuvre, The Chain Letter of the Soul paints a portrait of a man of great heart, broad vision, and startling prescience.
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The Windows of Brimnes

Bill Holm observes the U.S. from Iceland with a sardonic twinkle in his eye
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The Windows of Brimnes

In the tradition of Walt Whitman and Henry Thoreau, a singular perspective that is at once incisive and amusing, provocative, and congenial.
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Eccentric Islands

Eccentric Islands is a literary expedition across the map to islands both real and imaginary.
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Eccentric Islands

Eccentric Islands is a literary expedition across the map to islands both real and imaginary.
Read more ›


Coming Home Crazy

A book about what happened to an American in China, his adventures of daily life and on the road, and what America looked like after he got home. This edition includes a new afterword by the author ab
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The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth

The author of Eccentric Islands and Coming Home Crazy sends us a postcard from home, investigating through the lens of small-town life what community means to us and the rigid definition
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Editorial ReviewGoodreads Review

“It isn't the kind of book you simply read cover to cover and then place it back on the shelf. It's the kind of book you keep next to the night stand or next to your favorite recliner. Holm's newest book will touch your heart and spirit.”

—Timothy Douglass, Advocate Tribune

"Bill Holm is not only one of the finest poets in North America, but (let me not mince words) he is now expressing his view of the world in the finest poems he has ever written. Holm's ears are tuned right, and his poems about music are particularly accomplished . . . . Here is the heat and fire of music, by God, in words—words that are kneaded through Holm's rough fingers . . . . In these poems, Holm is playing the black piano for the rest of us with a power and an eloquence that is breathtaking.”

—Eric Friesen, Star Tribune

“It appears Bill Holm is keeping the angel of death away.”

—Linda Piwowarczyk, Suburban Chicago Newspapers

“Holm celebrates the free market of music, from Schubert, Gould and Tatum to musical beggars on Wuhan's Luoshi Road in China.”

Minnesota Monthly

“Holm is a musician as well as a poet. He fills his work with wonderful music, and with snapshots of his travels . . . . We flip past Iceland to China, the Dakotas, Greece, Alaska, Madagascar and Manhattan . . . by the time we reach the book's title poem, Death comes in a flurry, as Holm plays preludes and fugues, such as Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven”

Philadelphia Inquirer


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Bill Holm

Bill Holm was the son of Icelandic farmers and grew up in Minneota, Minnesota. He is known nationally for his essays and poetry collections which address his travels to Iceland and China. Holm passed away in 2009.

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