A-Different-Blaze

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A Different Blaze

by Fred Pelka

Fred Pelka’s poems occupy poetry’s narrow window, where words say what they mean and surprise at the same time. A Different Blaze takes on love, the fragility of being, war, and time, sidestepping sentimentality—but not heart, mixing darkness with humor. Pelka’s voice is both direct and lyrical. “It is forbidden to walk on stilts in the snow-filled rooms of your imagination.” Characters come alive; laughing Michael, in his souped-up power wheel chair; a German WW II soldier, awarded the Order of the Frozen Meat; a grandmother on her 100th birthday; a speech therapy student; a bank robber. These poems aren’t afraid to address love, which might need “a wheelchair to waltz,” or “a service dog to fetch the credit card receipt,” but which serves to send us into “another ecstatically exuberant form of life.”

“These poems remind us that the world as we know it did not just arrive of itself. With his poet/miner’s light he takes us into the tunnels on either side of the good life, those of war, the choreography of the body in the wheelchair, all the way up into death where he shines his beam with most excellent ferocity. These are metaphysical poems made of flesh and grace.”
— Doug Anderson author of The Moon Reflected Fire and Blues for Unemployed Secret Police

“The poems, as they rummage through a late and languishing America for some evidence of a god, a soul, or simply a meaning, are possessed by an intensity of language that has clearly been earned. Whatever they happen to examine—poverty, war, disability, amour—one has the sense that the events within or behind them have been profoundly lived. There is no self-pity here, but empathy, humor, and a metaphysical wit capable of conjoining the most unlikely elements in vivid, deep-going metaphor.”
— Henry Lyman, editor of Robert Francis’s Late Fire, Late Snow