PRINT: 32 pages; $6.95. January 2010.
EBOOK: for Kindle or EPUB readers. $2.99
"All of these poems have edges, teeth.
It's a brilliant collection."
Dale Favier, Mole
Odes to Tools
We're delighted to announce the publication of Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools, a recent collection of twenty-five uncommon poems inspired by common hand tools. Whether he's writing about hammers, house jacks, scissors, scythes, or even composing an ode to forks, Dave's wide-ranging mind, creative imagination, wry humor and finely-honed poetic skills combine to take us far beyond our sheds, back porches, and kitchen drawers.
We asked Dave how these poems came into being, and here's what he told us:
"I think they were an attempt to come up with a lyrical critique of teleology -- the belief that nature or history can be explained by some sort of ultimate purpose or design. Sometime in my late teens, when, like a lot of earnest young people, I was wrestling with questions about the meaning or purpose of life, it occurred to me that that line of questioning itself might be flawed, because it assumes that we are somehow tools, products of a toolmaker -- someone with an ultimate plan for us. This notion, comforting as it may be to some people, fills me with dread: to think that your role in life is intrinsic, unalterable, utilitarian!
But then with these poems, I was asking, what if one actually IS a tool? Doesn't a favorite tool often become more than just an instrument of the worker's will? Doesn't every successful tool in fact acquire a bit of an aura, sometimes even a personality? The more I worked on these poems, the shallower my original insight seemed. How well do any of us really know the tools we take for granted? All that said, these are pretty straight-forward poems, I think."
A great many poetry lovers already know and appreciate Dave's writing, but as he suggests in that quote, Odes to Tools is also one of those subversive cross-over books, perfect as a gift for someone who loves tools but thinks they don't like poetry. They'll be surprised to find a poet who appreciates tools with his words in much the same way they take care of their own saws or planes: not wrapped in fancy fabric or elevated like sculptures, but held comfortably in the hands, thought about like friends, and cared for now and then with a little oil on a clean cloth.
"Here is the uncompromising voice of a man who has not allowed the broader culture to dictate what is important to him, or what is vital about the natural world that sustains us and the relationships that mightactually transform us...Bonta's voice is one that offers keen insight into how we might move into the future, all of our senses intact, especially our common sense."
Todd Davis, winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and author of Some Heaven and
The Least of These (full quote here)
Dave's popular blog, Via Negativa, contains twelve years of his almost-daily essays, poems, photographs and videos, but this is -- rather incredibly, considering the blog's breadth and consistently high quality -- the first book that came out of it. Though he lives on a fairly remote mountainside in rural Pennsylvania, Dave is quick to point out that he's "not nearly as handy as these odes might suggest" and that his favorite tool is the computer mouse. A writer of poems since the age of seven whose work has appeared in numerous publications, he was the longtime co-editor of qarrtsiluni online literary magazine and is an author who has fully embraced the Internet but says he's "way more excited to read these poems in print than he thought he'd be." We hope you'll be excited too.
(And if you'd like to listen to Dave reading all the poems in the chapbook, there's an audio file here.)