~40 pages, $13 (+ shipping)
Projected Release Date: February 2024
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Tony Whedon’s poems and essays appear in Harpers, Agni, American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner,, Ploughshares and elsewhere. His essay collection A Language Dark Enough won the 2002 Mid-List Press award for Creative Non-Fiction. He’s the award-winning author of Drunk in the Woods, a collection of nature essays, and three books of poems and a poetry chapbook through Fomite, Mid-List, and Green Writers presses. A graduate of the University Iowa Writers Workshop and the MFA in Writing at Vermont College of the Arts, Tony is a retired professor of English at The University of Northern Vermont. He lives in coastal Georgia where he’s the trombone-playing leader of the Darien Jazz Quartet.
Tony Whedon’s BLUE RAY, twenty cosmopolitan poems, picks up intellectual surrealism’s clear-eyed, somber blue gauntlet: “Keep a blue bottle. Inside it an ear, a portrait, and one ray of moonlight tied down.” Self-confidence’s angels, lonely and dismayed, grow wings, leap from windows with Peter Pan, and horns on heads, legs of goats, fly home to Never-Never Land, where Pan invents breathtakingly suave, blue doom, each moonlit moment’s beautifully true, imprisoned ray, and poems unlike any other. ~Kenneth Rosen
A colorful painter’s eye, a skilled musician’s ear, a superb poet’s zest for words: as Blue Ray amply shows, Tony Whedon has all these gifts to spare. None would serve him–and us–so well as this selection does if he didn’t possess, in at least equal measure, an honest heart, one brimming with compassion. ~Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate (2011-25)
Inspired by painting, poetry, and jazz, Tony Whedon moves masterfully and magically across time and space – from 10th century Song dynasty paintings, to the Limbourg’s Tres Riches Heures of medieval France, to 17th century London via Samuel Pepys’ diaries, to the jams and orchestras of 20th century jazz – and onward to confessional poems of his double life in the Low Country of Georgia and the backwoods of northern Vermont. Blue Ray is pure genius! ~Neil Shepard author of How It Is: Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry)
It is night, it is Texas.
The sheriff is reading
his poems. They are made
of a single obscurity.
Nothing lives in his poems.
It is, in fact, Texas,
land of moon drunk sunflowers
and oil harvest. A stitch
up the highway I feel
my teeth loosen;
I am a part of his poems.
But he is gone now & I am alone.
The sky brightens. Clouds dip
& dive over the empty prairie.
Trout Fishing with Heroin Addicts
Once emancipated from the compulsions
of drapery, she lost no time setting to work.
She thought of Corot’s way of seeing things,
how without fussiness he painted a pond
reflecting trees, the very psychology
of trees in the soft receding masses
of branch and leaf. Details were details—
they tripped you up—after all, it was
September in leaf-strewn Vermont
and she was of the practical nature that
characterizes the Swiss. Immune
to the muted colors, she set out
to catch a trout, the idea of a trout,
by painting what it was not. Then the trout
rose from the pond’s pellucid depths.
The pond looked like a Monet. She studied
the needle marks between her toes, her junky legs,
& fell into a catch-and-release frame of mind.
It takes practice, the prep & so forth, she said
just as a big one surfaced a few feet away.
She reeled in, cast again, & the fish struck
her line, fading into a world she’d
have painted with time. There’s a sort
of ritual—don’t forget the injection.
That feeling stayed all afternoon, digging
into her like a claw. She reeled in the trout.
It looked eerily young, inexperienced
in the pleasures of spawning, & though free
it was still hooked on her line.
(After The Tres Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry)
Nothing tells a story better than a hog.
What it eats and what it wants—a cool pond to
wallow in, a fencepost to scratch its bristled
butt on. In late fall, a hog wants to fatten up.
Regardez, hogs, it’s raining fist‑sized acorns!
But none look up. A chateau’s fairy‑tale
crenellations tell us these hogs come
with a history, blue-blood hogs that go back
to the tusked, razorbacks of Charlemagne.
A swineherd flings a stick into an oak’s
branches. His left arm falls back in a salute
to November. Oak leaves in the dusk,
peasants with clubs retreating into
a dark oak forest—as their voices
ride down the valley, more hogs rush from
their pens, eyes slanted, and more acorns
patter onto the hogs’ heads. Circe
turned Odysseus’ shipmates into pigs.
They snuffled around her courtyard
hoping to be changed back into men.
Wake up, hogs! Raise up your heads!
In these last precious hours
your real life is about to begin.