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Dear Friends of the Arts;
We are proud to announce that due to his high quality
submissions, Stephen Wing's new book of poems,
"Four-Wheeler & Two -Legged," ISBN 1-881891-00-3, 112pp.
has been chosen as Southeastern FRONT's first published
book by a single author.
"Four Wheeler & Two Legged"is contemporary poetry with
themes on hitchhiking, nature & earth awareness, inter-
national human rights & relationships. We have enclosed a
feature length book review with 2 complete poems for your
** At the end of this review is an "About the Author" page
and an additional poem selected from the book, a tough
selection to make... considering the variety of exceptional
pieces in this volume for which we have labored to make
available to You.
Artists' & Writers' Presentation Service
Four-Wheeler & Two-Legged
by Stephen Wing
112 pages, Feb.1993 pap. $9.95 ISBN 1-881891-00-3
Selected from over 1600 entries to be Southeastern
FRONT's first published book project, FOUR-WHEELER &
TWO-LEGGED poems by Stephen Wing is a powerful volume
of poems of travel, human nature and our relationship
to the environment. These are messages to wake us to
the beauty and importance of our times, our environment
and our individual lives. This book is full of free
verse observations on the power & beauty of every day
aesthetic experiences, whether focusing on the inward
human emotions, values and turmoils or the grandeur of
the magnificent art of the creator, it is all rendered
with the hand of an artist.
Stephen Wing is one of the rare writers who understand
the craft of what good poetry is supposed to be, and has
applied himself to it in his search for experience as well
as in his writing.
Taylor Stoehr, editor of Paul Goodman's collected
poems has responded thus;
Thank You for Your fine book of poems. I've
liked your work from first sight, but this book is
full of splendid new things. There are very few
poets alive that have gotten to me the way You have,
The last one was Rita Dove. [(a past poet
laureate of the U.S.)]
I'd like to send copies of your book to some
editors I know, meanwhile I'd also like to give
copies to friends, so I'm sending You a check for
three to pass out.
Dr. Bernard Morris makes several detailed
observations in his review of the new book:
You know you have connected with a poetic
sensibility when the images swirl about as they do
in "Four-Wheeler & Two-Legged," a new collection of
poems by Stephen Wing. At first encounter, we might
think Whitman's "Song of the Open Road" is being reworked:
The robust expansiveness of Whitman is echoed in the
joy of this poet's experience on the highway
"The Wheeling sky knows
all my directions,it is going there before me,
my companions the highways
stride the horizons at my side..."
The beginning of the book has a brightness to it,
the images glint with light, fire, reflections, and the
poet exhilarates in living and moving across the
landscape filled with color, with natural shapes that
give joy and beauty.
The poet also feels, like Whitman, a oneness with
The Stones at Laurel Creek
The stones here are
shoulders and elbows of the lover I
looked for everywhere I travelled
to arrive here
poking through her
garment of rhododendron, shaped
by her rush of laughter, eddies
I feel her
enjoying my step best when I step
naked, enjoying it
Like the pause
when the fingers seem to listen to the skin
and forget which name the lover has
and what color the skin,
to soothe my hands on her tender grain
Through the slow, gigantic
pulse of sun in stone I suddenly
(but even that
is just a name
under every itch and movement of my foot
and I have only known her
Wing allows his poetry few embellishments besides
what comes in the array of imagery and lyrical
phrasing. Relying on spacing and positioning as much
as language, Wing draws attention to the look of his
poetry, which has the variances of many voices and much
detail without the clutter of random thought and
Whole stanzas are set off in italics to
counterpoint and emphasize, serving throughout the
volume like a Greek chorus, or an alter ego, or simply
a modulation of the poet's voice.
The title is appropriate in that the poems in the
first half of the book make much of the highway as a
setting, as a way.
Wheels in Love
This highway spans the time zones,
scissors the state line,
hurdles the river on steel and mathematics
but shies in a calculated curve
from the sea-
It is the male's
long abstraction of the search for sex.
It gives endless narrow room
for the broad-shouldered pride of the race.
It intersects other roads mostly
at right angles, with a wary circling.
It carries the lover of velocity almost clear
of his line and plane, almost to climax
in its steady convergence of asphalt and sky
(but every hilltop he conquers
lets him down)
tracks the highway through the eye and arm
of the autonomous human male,
shielding him from the little deaths of insects,
the poison of his exhalation-
It is a mechanical model
of the intricate male ego, life-size.
It suspends every destination
from the spark and explosion of destiny confined.
It sings that deep single note
of any disappointed lover of the wind.
It blueprints his days and weeks and years
in a system of interlocking circles
which weekends he can dismantle and master
(but every month his payment
what do you think he keeps glancing up
to his rear-view mirror for?
Those in the remaining half of the book move from
the realm of the four-wheeler into territories in which
the poet recognizes humans as two-legged figures in a
threatened environment. The four-wheeler is lost sight
of, and in its place is a gargantuan technology that
wreaks havoc on the land. By the second part
of the book ("Ghost Antelopes on the Highway"), the
exuberant poet finds himself in a war:
"What kind of war is this
against the flowers of the valley of the Amazon
against the tribes this wilderness has
("The War Against the Trees")
His celebration of the earth and its refulgence
and verdure early into the book is counterpointed by an
awareness of desecration: "The evergreens are turning
brown" ("Bivouac Between Billboards"), and
technological decay blights the landscape while humans
continue the assault:
And eight miles from Grand Canyon
National Park they still
long to sink their empty shaft
into the Mother ....
("Under an Incandescent Sky")
Increasingly made aware of the destructive nature
of humans, the poet begins to lose his sense of a
harmony between humans and their natural setting,
seeing a separation, an opposition:
"We embalm our living in fluorescent light
under monuments of debt" .......
....("Cover the Dead").
Though the stridency of outrage is absent, the
urgency of protest is evident in the number of poems
devoted to human suffering caused by humans greedy for
power and indifferent to or ignorant of the actualities
of war. The four-wheeler forgotten, the poet sees its
"The tank is a filthy creature...." (From "Nicaragua
Libre Full Moon," a long poem written while on a school
building mission in Nicaragua which happened to
coincide with the U.S. invasion of Panama.)
The later poems focus on what the poet sees in the
world, a world threatened and shared by humans, who
must work together to save themselves and the earth
they inhabit. The realization of this need seems to
diminish the value of private imagery in the poet's
Perhaps without intending to, the poet appears to
doubt the truth of what his earlier self had seen when
he sought to embody the world in linguistic form, for
in one of the final poems, he casts doubt on what minds
by themselves see:
individual darknesses, pierced by lights,
Not these flitting shadows in our heads, blind boundaries
of nations no more real than the lines of the constellations"
("What We Share")
A major theme in the final poems is sharing. One
other effect seems to reflect Wing's commitment to
bringing people together in peace, gathering together
to stop the destruction. As the book begins with a
single two-legged soul on the highway celebrating the
earth, it ends with people sharing, joined in a common
cause, binding the landscape into a single patchwork
with the strength of their joined hands....
"To commemorate the 40th Hiroshima day
25,000 people came to Washington to tie a ribbon
of 18-inch segments around the Pentagon, across
the potomac, around the capital and down the
mall to the Lincoln memorial.".......
(...from introduction to "The Ribbon")
"We're so much stronger when we just/hold hands,"
the poet says, plaintively, but one senses in this plea
that the poet himself may have lost some of his faith
in the power of poetry...
I have taken sides
A poet can no longer stand
in the yard at night alone
travelling the constellations
at the speed of darkness
We have work to do inside.
Not enough to sing the dark
with the crickets, sing the moon
with a coyote, not enough
to stay up and sing dawn with the birds-
"Song alone can't save us".....
("Poet Working the Dawn Shift Again")
One is reminded of the end of The Tempest, when
Prospero tosses his book of magic into the sea, giving
up his magical powers. This poet does not make such a
dramatic surrendering, but one senses that, like
Prospero, Stephen Wing has come to a turning point.
the poetry of clasping hands
alone can save us, this language that leaps
at the speed of light from eye to eye....
By the end, Wing's "poetry" has shifted from the
written word, has become "the poetry of clasping
hands," and the work they do in saving the earth and
its inhabitants is of the first importance.
-By Dr. Bernard E. Morris
Ed Wincentsen, Editor of "New Thought Journal"
"This is an ambitious book of poetry, beautifully
produced, and the poet does have a distinct voice. It
is refreshing to come across a poet of his caliber and
ability to communicate. I want to see more of this
poets' work and to see the recognition he deserves.
...."real poems only spring from the things you really
care about," I care about this book of poetry and You
will too after reading it. Send for a copy."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Four-Wheeler & Two Legged by Stephen Wing
112 pgs. ISBN 1-881891-00-3
Stephen Wing started thumbing his way to school when
his bicycle was stolen in the middle of the 12th grade.
After obtaining a degree from Beloit College, (English
composition with concentration in fiction,) he began twelve
years of serious post-graduate wandering. He is the
product of a missionary family, suburbia, canoeing in
Quetico, the liberal arts, the American counterculture,
the hills of Georgia, and well over a hundred thousand
miles of hitch-hiking. His first real poem was a hymn of
thanks for the moment he was standing in, someplace along
the road, understanding that real poems only spring from
the things you really care about.
He is active in the Green movement, serves as co-
editor of the "From Trident to Life Campaign's" newsletter
and on the editorial committee of the "Up & Out of Poverty
Now" magazine "Street Heat." Because of these concerns,
is sometimes considered a political poet, He is not; it's
just that some things really do matter, and poets ignore
them at the risk of becoming irrelevant themselves.
"Four-Wheeler & Two-Legged" is drawn from a series of
chapbooks he photocopied over the years to give away as
thanks to all the folks that gave him rides as a hitch-
hiker. Circumstances permitting, he would be honored to
read his work to any kind of audience; contact him through
Stephen Wing's poems & articles have recently
appeared in these publications, "Creation Spirituality,"
"Mothering" magazine, "Katuah Journal," "Rural
Voice for Peace" (R.S.V.P.), "Clergy & Laity Concerned"
(C.A.L.C.) & "Hospitality" (both homeless advocacy publi-
cations,) Chicago's "Scenezine" "All Ways Free," "Street
Heat," "Black & White," "NU Views," "Prairie
"Innerself" & "Athens GA's Human Rights Festival program"
His poem "A New Creation After Rain," recently won first
place in the Atlanta Writing Resource Center Poetry Contest.
The Pilgrimage to Rest (and Travel On)
The Canoe sang all the way
on the roof of the car
as if it remembered this highway
North by the Pole Star
a dark lake is draining south under the Dipper
slung like a hammock
between the beaverdam and the waterfall
but never resting
The canoe sang all night to the moon
as if remembering
the sound of water at the bows
Leaping every minute from it's granite lip
into song, the water falls:
stroke by stroke against the slow, perpetual
adjusting of waterlevels
from lake to lake, we paddle closer to its mist
and thunder, step by step
beneath our upturned keels we climb
toward the northern divide
the moon calls down
to some memory of tide in us as we drive
under our upturned hull
against the wind of our chosen direction
Rounding the rock face where the water falls
we cease our paddle-talk
to listen: up that steep ledge it calls us,
to the level of the next lake
where we'll stretch our tents on their poles
and tie our hammocks
to rest a day while the canoes sleep, upturned
on a granite shoulder
Some night years from now a star will fall
reflected in that lost lake
and wherever we are we'll remember how
the song of falling water called us
one step higher in its long pilgrimage
- Stephen Wing