Chester Creek Ravine

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, pages 123–124.       +

Chester Creek Ravine by Bart Sutter (2015, Nodin Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota). 82 pages, 4½×7˝, perfectbound. ISBN 978-1-935666-75-2. $16.00 from Nodin Press.

A beautifully designed collection of 150 poems about “revelatory moments alongside Chester Creek, a stream that drops dramatically through the city of Duluth [where the author lives] on its final run to Lake Superior,” according to the publisher’s website. Most poems are not syllabic, but feel long for haiku, and often use distracting rhyme or slant rhyme. The book is rich with images, but its real strength is how it celebrates Bashō’s walking practice combined with Thoreau’s “sage advice to ‘stay home,’” as the author walked a thousand miles on a 2.5-mile loop trail near his house, recording his experiences. Here’s a random poem, among the shorter ones: “The leaves all molder. / This lichen-spattered boulder / Melts more slowly.”