Monday, December 2, 2013

Don Kingfisher Campbell's An Alternate Sky

     Don Kingfisher Campbell, poet, educator, and editor of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly is not an artist who can be pigeon-holed into one specific literary category. He proves this truth with his newest chapbook, An Alternate Sky (copyright 2013 Don Kingfisher Campbell).
     If you know Campbell (and I do), then you can’t help but like him. He’s an amiable guy from Pasadena who works hard to make sure that he - and all the poets he nurtures - are fairly represented, respected, and have a turn at the mic - and he carries this principle into his poetry.
     An Alternate Sky contains 36 poems written in a similar style (narrative, short stanzas), but each one has a distinctive voice. There’s Campbell the romantic (“Fuck to the Future”, “Seven Courses”), the teacher/facilitator (“Workshop”, “Prose Poem Inspired by Perfection”, “Summer School Senryu”), the social critic-commentator (“Not So Still Lives”, “Big Bangs”, “CNN Universe”), and my favorite (and where I believe he shines best), Campbell the dreamer-philosopher (“Did I Planet”, “Issa Frequency”, “Curiosity”). Campbell is a poet who respects his work and audience in equal measure. Each poem visually and lyrically unfolds in the mind of the reader like a series of well-crafted films, as in the poem, “Curiosity,” a revelation of what gifts Campbell has gleaned from viewing the Mars Rover Curiosity’s pictures from the Red Planet:

Why can’t I walk
on this pebbly dirt?

Why can’t I traipse
up rocky brown slopes?

Why can’t I climb,
ridge by ridge, plateau?

Just because it is too far
to reach without a ship,

just because there’s not
enough money for a mission,

just because I will be dead
before an expedition leaves.

At least, I can enjoy the robot
photographs from the rover,

and without hesitation believe
I am seeing familiar earth,

minus plants, animals…
now sporting human-made debris.

Campbell the poet has much to teach us about the nature of fair-play, with ourselves and in relation to how we as wordsmiths interact with our poetry. With An Alternate Sky, it’s a lesson many writer-poets can learn and refer back to in the future.

Note: For those of who weren’t fortunate enough to take advantage of Poetry Super Highway’s "9th Annual Great E-book Free For All", you can still purchase Campbell’s newest collection, An Alternate Sky, as a gift for the poetry lover this holiday season, or better yet, as a gift to oneself.

An Alternate Sky, copyright 2013 Don Kingfisher Campbell, 36 pages, $10 (includes shipping and handling. Details at )

© 2013 marie lecrivain