THE LIFEBLOOD OF THE AMERICAN WEST
A brave woman chooses an independent career
with a commitment to her community
The extra effort needed to keep stanzas strong and shaped to form pays off, regardless of the subject matter. Francis Fike demonstrates this in Dune Tracks.
“We are currently awash in a sea of free verse and have been bathing in it for some time, which continues to wash away knowledge and use of traditional form in poetry, an alternative means of presenting subjects and discovering insights into their meaning….”
As this passage from the foreword to Dune Tracks clearly and passionately reveals, Fike chooses formal over free verse. He is polite about the preference, and he stays off the soap box, but tracking these poems you will find evidence of his claim that poetry with rhyme, meter, and strong stanzas fruitfully guides his exploration and illumination of experience.
This poet‘s subjects are diverse, from Michigan landscapes and hospitality to family milestones, to a visiting ghost, to migrating birds. He transforms a group of French poems into English with skill and accuracy; he offers us an array of new hymns that reset old truths in fresh forms.
He ends the book with a memoir about Yvor Winters, the noted teacher, poet, and literary critic with whom Fike studied on a Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship at Stanford University. Finding himself thus in the company with other formalist poets who owe to Winters the confirmation of their choice of form in poetry, with them he remembers and honors Winters as an influential teacher and comrade.
Francis Fike earned degrees from Duke University, Union Theological Seminary, and Stanford University. He has published poetry and prose in various periodicals, including Renascence, Audubon Magazine, and The Formalist. His five previous books of poetry include After the Serpent's Word and In Season and Out. He served as Poetry Editor or Perspectives from 1995-2005, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.