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Gary Lindorff's 'Children to the Mountain'

Book review:

There is another pervasive quality of Lindorff’s writing that should be emphasized, lest the conclusion be drawn that he is one-note, or a proselytizer. As is evidenced by the preceding excerpt, there is lyrical word play at work here; this is organic utterance of one whose lifelong métier is writing. This poetry is natural, unpretentious, unfettered by arcane idea, eccentric or deliberately obscure point. The style and rhythm of the writing is uncontrived, suited spontaneously to occasion and subject. “Makes its own sauce,” as the slogan goes.

His poem, “Here and There,” well captures Lindorff’s pastoral aspect, his apposition to the human world, throwing into poignantly (perhaps bitterly) written relief the differences between natural and anthropocentric realities:

    Here the tide ebbs and rises
    and when it rises
    the barnacles open and wave little ferns.
    There the coral reefs are dying;
    the bottle with their message
    never reaches shore.



    Here a fish leaps and the river sings.
    There a river
    is a million drinks of water,
    a million sad stories of once upon a time.


Lindorff comes by his withdrawal from modernity honestly. His poems carry extra weight when you understand that they are founded on long-standing principle and action.

“Moving to Vermont from Baltimore in the late 1980s changed everything for me,” he said. “I was editing poetry for City Paper in Baltimore and my son, Evan had just been born when Chernobyl blew. Then shortly after that, the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant, 50 miles to the north, closed down for ‘cleaning.’ It had a similar design to the plant in Chernobyl and I thought it would be smart to get the hell out, move to Vermont to raise my son.”

The move helped contributed to the breakup of his first marriage, and he began taking deeper stock of life, embarking on the first of six vision quests. (A vision quest is essentially a Native American ritual of retreat and fasting over the course of several days.) This led, over the years, to studying and practicing shamanism, and ultimately to a melding of Jungian psychology and Native American spirituality. Any suspicions of New Agey, sophomoric sensibility are quickly laid to rest by the sincerity, vividness, and weight of his writing. Here is “Under a Thunderhead”:

story | by Dr. Radut