Poet: Steve Ausherman

Publisher: Encircle Publications

ISBN: 13: 978-1-893035-15-7: 10: 1-893035-15-8

The Pushcart Prize is one of the most honored literary projects in America and according to the Pushcart Press Website honors the best of poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot published in the small presses over the previous year. Although Steve Ausherman never won the prize, he has nonetheless been nominated three times-quite a feat in itself. And reading his collection of twenty-four poems contained in Creek Bed Blue should put all doubts to rest if he was worthy of such recognition. His poems confirms what the French poet Paul Valéry said about poetry: “Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.”

The voice we hear throughout this collection is intense, sentimental, and alert as Ausherman revisits the landscape of his youth and the changes it has endured. His biography states that he is a poet, painter, and photographer. As we savour these poems, we can't help noticing how his artistic talents and photographic eye as well as his love of the outdoors inspires every poem with the visual qualities of his descriptions and images. His subjects are never lifeless or mundane-sometimes even focusing on the inevitability.

As an example, lets look at a few lines from Her Wrinkled Skin:

Now the last elder founders,

She stands upon the tipping edge before the bulldozer's blade,

Her memories are to be recycled and turned into plastic toy wrapping,

Years ago she stopped reading the obituary page as she's outlasted all her friends,

She stares at the grass, wondering how high school dances might have felt,

She could work Rosie and Tom Joad into an early grave,”

Sound familiar- could this be your grandmother, mother or mother-in-law?

Quite noteworthy about Ausherman's poetry is how the magic of his words come to life demonstrating his deft control of tone and language.

This is in evidence in Fastnacht Day where his brother and he gorged on homemade doughnuts and the last three lines summing it all up where the words and images bring back fond memories:

We gorge ourselves on doughnut after doughnut

Confectionery sugar dabbed on our chins

Culinary goatees smiling.

Another example is in Two Brothers where Ausherman dreams about his fishing experiences where he writes in the first two stanzas:

We caught Bluegill and Sunfish

With small spinner lures

Painted in red and white stripes

We pulled them from the small

Farm pond flanked

By reeds, cattails, and watching cows

Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century remarked that “poetry should be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings”- a theory Ausherman seems to have followed with his tender snapshots exploring nature, family and the Pennsylvania farm environment he grew up in. Filled with a great deal of nostalgia the poems recreate a wide horizon of moments where words are constantly trying to reach an illuminating understanding of the past that probably would be applicable to anyone thirsty to look back to their childhood days. Moreover, and what really stands out, is that Ausherman's poetry is for people and not for academics.

Follow Here To Purchase Creek Bed Blue

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Steve Ausherman