A Minnesotan of Icelandic ancestry, the author’s travels have taken him all over the world. Here he repairs to Brimnes, his fisherman’s cottage on the shore of a fjord in northern Iceland. Looking west from this place of seemingly endless and kaleidoscopic light, he considers America—“my home, my citizenship, my burden.”
Musician. Curmudgeon. Trailblazer. Prairie populist. Teacher. World traveler. Cultural critic. Humanitarian. Scholar. Skeptic. Insightful humorist. Charismatic speaker. Firebrand. Seer. This collection of new and selected poems paints a portrait of the poet: a man of great heart, broad vision, and startling prescience.
This collection reflects on the author’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 Tuscon, these poems speak to a full embrace of the world and a passion for living well.
Part traveler’s journal, part philosophical exploration, this book considers the idea of islands and asks whether they encourage eccentricity and grandeur in human beings. Along the way, it introduces beguiling characters and cultures, from the well-read radio man on an Icelandic freighter to the Robert Johnson of Madagascar and his instrument, the valiha.
Arranged by letter of the alphabet, with at least one entry per letter, these short pieces capture the variety of daily life in contemporary China. Here, one learns what it is like to travel by “hard-seat” train to a remote village, to smuggle Chinese classics back into China, and to experience Mickey Mouse-mania in the Middle Kingdom.
Growing up, the author could define failure easily; it was “to die in Minneota.” But when he returned to his hometown twenty years later, he began to discover more of himself and of our time. This books investigates—through the lens of small-town life—what community means and the rigid definitions we give to “success” and “failure.”