Animism, Buddhism, Friendship, & Autoharp Melodies:

                                                                    Some Thoughts About Robert Sund's Work

 

What is it that gives me a special joy each time I come back to Robert Sund´s poems? The surprises, clarity and craft; his fresh and accurate eye; a playful and illuminating sense of humor; and the revelations. Revelations from a life pared down to what he found most important: attentiveness, art, friendship, and the land. 

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It is something like traveling to a land where the light (the crystalline night as well) makes the things of this world full and round; subtle with hidden dimensions. These seem to exist without proof. There is little, if any, irony.

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Sund's fundamental themes: friends, calligraphy, art, handmade artifacts, spirit, poetry, meditation, Buddhism, & the autoharp.  

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His landscapes stand as powers, teachers, and elders. They seem to inhabit him every bit as much as he inhabits them. The tradition of long occupation is honored. 

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Sund’s animist vision: the wind, mountains, snow, sunlight, skunk cabbage, boxcars and coyotes, each with a quickened senescent spirit that skirts the territory of frank anthropomorphism, coexist within a sort of native Folk Buddhism.

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In Taos Mountain weaving is a recurrent theme. And weaving is recurrent. Similar materials are used and reused as they would be in weaving a blanket or rug: sky, mountain, memory, night, a star, song, the recurrent days. The rhythm of successive horizons: sunrise and sunset;  layers of day and night breathed successively, waking and dreaming, all horizontal weft woven through a vertical warp.

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“Men that undertake one district are much more likely to advance natural knowledge than those that grasp at more than they can possibly be acquainted with: every kingdom, every province, should have it’s [sic] own monographer.” – Gilbert White, English naturalist. October 8, 1770. Letter VII to Daines Barrington.

 

Repeatedly, his poems teach us that old lesson -- the one we keep forgetting -- that when we are attentive, poems (and their revelations) spring from every place and every moment. 

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Places are as responsible for their artists as the artists are for their art. Places, in their long evolving lives, summon artists and breathe life into their work.  Inspire. In Sund's notes, one can almost hear his thoughts emptying out and filling with the river and the estuary air. His rhythms becoming tidal flood and ebb, seasonal, migratory. Or cracked and surprising as refractions of waves, daylight breaking through a cloud, a weasel stalking swallow eggs, and “a small piece of dust” lit by slanting sunlight.  

© 2016 by BILL YAKE

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