Roger Dunsmore’s latest volume, On the Chinese Wall: New & Selected Poems, gathers some fifty years of writing by one of the finest poets of the Great Subculture. The voices of this Subculture emerge from shadow and silence in song, art, story-telling and myth-making, and in particular in the common speech of everyday life. Such is the speech of Dunsmore’s poetry, informed by the lyric past of ancient Greece and the visionary traditions of ancient America as expressed by the Sioux visionary Black Elk. Here, among echoes of Archilochos and Meister Eckhart, can be found a poem for a loose ram, a poem for a woman kissing all the icons in the Byzantine Museum in Athens, a poem for a trapper in Montana whose pet wolverine loved Oreo cookies.
Dunsmore’s poetry derives from an old world of people, creatures, and things held in the compromising embrace of the New: Che Guevera in the mountains; the voices of students in China; and a man named Mike Blue Horse, “best night-hawker on the Hi-line,” dancing solo in a bar in Montana.
“Roger Dunsmore’s collection On the Chinese Wall: New & Selected Poems, 1966–2018 runs as deep as the river of time. Ways of seeing the world are renewed and retooled. These poems seem in tune with the hum of ancient spirits. The old earth sings”
— Debra Magpie Earling, Author of Perma Red
“In language one could call spare or unadorned, but in language that is above all accurate and relentlessly honest, Roger Dunsmore writes poems about history. Large history, with a capital H; smaller individual histories too. His poems are about what it means to be human, what it means to go on, to live in time and acknowledge its passing. Everyone passes, but Dunsmore offers us this wise and magisterial map.”
— Robert Wrigley, Author of Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems