Charming Gardeners

David Biespiel

  • Published: 2013. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Literature / Poetry
  • Bibliographic information: 144 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Pacific Northwest Poetry Series
  • Contents

The formally nuanced and wise epistolary poems in David Biespiel's new collection are grounded in friendship, camaraderie, and the vulnerability and boldness that defines America.

Roving from the old Confederacy of Biespiel's native South to Portland, Oregon, Charming Gardeners explores the wildness of the Northwest, the avenues of Washington, D.C., the coal fields of West Virginia, and an endless stretch of airplanes and hotel rooms from New York to Texas to California.

These poems explore the "insistent murmurs" of memory and the emotional connections between individuals and history, as well as the bonds of brotherhood, the ghosts of America's wars, and the vibrancy of love, sex, and intimacy. We are offered poems addressed to family, friends, poets, and political rivals - all in a masterful idiom Robert Pinsky has called Biespiel's "own original grand style."

I should stop back there

And stand on both feet in the grazing sunlight

And hear this chorus of America singing.

But I am so afraid of the testament of the delivered.

David Biespiel is the author of four collections of poetry, including Wild Civility and The Book of Men and Women. He also contributed to Politico from 2008 to 2012.

"Biespiel can excel with Northwestern landscape . . . and his looks at U.S. history are at once informative and grand. Biespiel's verse letters [are] like letters in a correspondence, as part of an effort towards unguarded friendship, attentive to a poet with much to say."
-Publishers Weekly, September 2013
To from the Jewish Cemetery in Williamson, West Virginia

To Wendy from Yellow Hickory
To Plumly from Lummi Island
To Hugo from SoDo
To Biespiel from Schul
To Wiman from Walla Walla
To Keller from Skamania Lodge
To Ruest from Winston-Salem
To Gifford from Kiowa County

To Bierds from the Cannery Pier Hotel
To Ansel from the Hotel Andra
To Di Piero from Dufur
To Farnsworth from Bar Avignon
To Collier from United Flight 304
To Buckley from Berkeley
To Conda from Anaconda
To Wendy from the Gershwin Hotel

To Smith from Northampton
To Snyder from the Blue Scorcher Café
To Sylvester from Terminal B
To Gifford from United Flight 308

To C. D. from D.C.
To Unrau from Union
To Lenney from the Greenbrier Hotel
To Biespiel from United Flight 1037
To Luke from United Flight 251
To Wendy from the Crow's Nest


About the Author

"These are lengthy, traveling poems that talk and click along like a train (though most of the travel is by plane), engines full of breath. It's an encyclopedic book, chock-full of references of every kind, both personal and general . . . a book that strikes out to find America."
-Joe Linker, The Coming of the Toads, October 17 2013

"David Biespiel's Charming Gardeners is unlike any book I've read in a long time. Filled with epistolary poems, his book - despite being populated by the poet's friends and family - is actually a work of great loneliness. In many ways, Biespiel's journey is America's, where the road is both a symbol of arrivals, but also departures, and in between is solitude."
-John Ebersole, New Books in Poetry

"[This] incandescent collection grabs hold of and portrays the ghosts of history, family, and place that captivate the poet."
-Susan Seligson, Bostonia