poems by Joseph Stanton
Prevailing Winds by Joseph Stanton is organized into three sorts of considerations of the world—showcasing some of the ways it is represented in art, makes appearances in nature, and tends, in the long run, towards disappearance. The first two sections of the book are continuations of Stanton’s career-long fascinations with works of art and works of nature. The propulsion of the final section is the understanding that things can and will fall apart or simply fall from sight. Art is long lasting and nature lingers, but nothing stays in view forever. The last section is darker, but, like the first two parts, it also entertains whimsical turns of thought. The world, Stanton believes, is wonderful even though there are reasons to remember that things can get lost or simply slip from sight.
POETRY / General
ISBN: 978-1-956056-37-2 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Copyright 2022; released May 10, 2022
Joseph Stanton’s previous books of poems are Moving Pictures, Things Seen, Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O‘ahu, Cardinal Points, and What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem (co-authored with Makoto Ōoka, Wing Tek Lum, and Jean Toyama). His other books include Looking for Edward Gorey, The Important Books: Children’s Picture Books as Art and Literature, and Stan Musial: A Biography. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New Letters, Harvard Review, Antioch Review, New York Quarterly, and many other magazines. As an art historian, Stanton has written about Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, and other American artists. He has collaborated with artists, musicians, and other writers and has received many awards for his work, including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, the Cades Award for Literature, and the Ekphrasis Prize. Professor Emeritus of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, he continues to teach in varied settings, most recently teaching the Starting with Art poetry workshop at Poets House in New York City and at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
“In Prevailing Winds, Joseph Stanton’s deep understanding of artists and their medium is everywhere evident in the ekphrastic poems of Section I, texts that go beyond the aesthetics of surfaces and invite us into a deeper narrative that brings the ‘silent work of art’ to life. In Sections II and III, his keen observations of the richness of wildlife in opposition to scenarios exploring the human condition are paintings in their own right and exemplify the incredible thematic range of Stanton’s poetry.”
“Many of us always eagerly await Joseph Stanton’s next book, and here it is—and it won’t disappoint. Once again, his poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, fills the gap between imagination and reality, making of his local Hawaiian habitation a place of magic realism, beauty, and wisdom. A master of ekphrastic verse, Stanton continues that interest here, most notably in the series based on Winslow Homer’s paintings and the collaborative poems produced for artist Adam LeBlanc’s exhibit, Nights on B Street. Prevailing Winds is Stanton’s best book yet.”
“Joseph Stanton’s Prevailing Winds is a work of art. Indeed, the poems in its opening section, ‘Representations,” are about art: paintings and sculptures and installations, some whose makers he knows and with whom he has joined in collaborations, and others both past and present whose work he has pondered and loved. Visual art, like music, explores subjects and feelings that can’t simply be expressed in words. But poetry, too, is an art. At its best, it becomes an almost magical new language within the language, using the same words, but choosing and ordering them in surprising ways, arranging their sounds so that they play with silence and evoke images and feelings more quickly than thought. An accomplished poet like Joseph Stanton, who has devoted his heart and mind lifelong to exploring the affinity between poetry and visual images, can ‘raid the inarticulate’ and find words to make the connections between the artist’s feeling and our own, as he does in these poems. Other passionate subjects of this poet’s attention include the natural world, especially as seen from or within the city. Trees, clouds, and especially birds engage him, both those surrounding him now—the finches, shamas, and frigate birds in ‘Appearances’—and those native Hawaiian birds echoing from extinction, the honeycreepers and others in the section he calls ‘Disappearances.’ In a way, the final ‘Disappearances’ section has been set up for us by the last poem, ‘Beached,’ in the previous section, which hints that we’re going to be asked to consider the extinction of more than species. The poems in this final section build on and resonate with one another. In several of them, Stanton considers the invisible man theme from various unique angles, and in others, such as ‘Moth Monologues,’ he explores the search for the meaning of disappearance in individual human death. This is not a collection of poems that could have been written by a young poet.”
“The ‘fragile poise’ that is our stance in life despite knowing we will waste away and die is the theme of Joseph Stanton's Prevailing Winds. In his compressed narratives of humans, birds, and flowers, he describes the movement toward nothingness from the privileges of birth, health, and beauty. Yet wisdom and comfort can be found in these poems too.”
“The finely crafted Prevailing Winds collection by Joseph Stanton gathers within its pages three books: one on creation, another on inspiration—with ekphrastic and collaborative works—and one more on incarnation—recollections of intimacy with the mysterious divine through other people. All this is revealed through a rich repertoire of lyrical forms in a lush, paradisal setting.”
“What distinct intelligence does the poet-critic bring to the beauty he inhabits, and the beauty that inhabits him? In Joseph Stanton’s Prevailing Winds, we are invited to accompany the authority of the omniscient speaker as guide, as we walk through a triptych of rooms that in turn proffer representations, appearances, and disappearances. The view is sumptuous and sublime. In these poems remain lyric portraits of how art comes into being. Each poem offers a richly immersive space. The reader comes close to the page and language, to glean a choice fragment of history, identity, culture, tradition, authorship, process, textuality, all with great deliberate intent. Housed in this cool, clear voice is all the creative genius of such a staggering platter of preeminent artists. More importantly, through his calm intimations, we become witness to the conspicuous discernment of the eminent poet Stanton himself.”
“The range and precision of Joseph Stanton’s Prevailing Winds is breathtaking. From ekphrases and portraits of the flora and fauna of Hawai‘i (and beyond) to the unveiling of artists (of all stripes!) and the vitality simmering just below the surface of their work, each poem opens the reader to a new world—of color, of sound, of language, of meaning.”
John Berger, “Retired University of Hawaii professor Joseph Stanton releases poetry book,” Honolulu Star Advertiser (June 26, 2022)
“Patricia Matsueda, “Collaborations,” Vice-Versa
“Extinct, endangered native birds spotlighted in poem collection,” University of Hawai‘i Newsletter
Catherine Cruz, “Local poet Joseph Stanton turns to the natural world for inspiration,” Hawaii Public Radio (May 11, 2022)
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