Blair Mountain Press 2021
A collection of lyric poems connecting the natural world to human beings through a mystical revelation.
of all the world’s events
clover does not signify
or the honeybees
nor do the butterfly weeds
or the butterflies themselves
to be dwelt on
colorful, sweet distractions, indulgences
when the florets in a clover
create an airy, small white blossom
and the gold-and-black barred honeybee
they introduce by such an image
how eternity, diminished in the grass
Blair Mountain Press 2015
With a title that pays homage to the Native American Ghost Dance movements of the mid- and late-19th century, this collection questions (and manifests) the age-old human tendency to call on history and magic for rescue from the apparently hopeless mess of the present. The poems comment on our shared means of connecting with powers larger than ourselves: fairy tales and other fantasies to bolster our spirits and to stave off evil—our own and others’; the games we run to exploit others or to survive exploitation; and perplexing riddles about human nature and our mostly unknowable motives.
"Ghost Dance Poems has wide variety and a large fund of wit and depth...taking us to the world of legends and myths as well as up close to the texture of our everyday lives." Meredith Sue Willis, author of Oradelle at Sea and other novels, most recently, the science fiction novel, Soledad in the Desert.
Blair Mountain Press, 2015
Is it possible to claim, mystically, that the phenomenal world is holy? No, not if “holy” we mean that the phenomenal world is dedicated to God. Is it possible to claim, mystically, that the phenomenal world is the source of our compassion? No, not if by compassion we mean concern and pity for others. Is it possible to claim, mystically, that the experience of enlightenment reveals to us a new meaning for reality? No, not if by enlightenment we mean an experience which is ineffable, an experience of meaningless meaning. Where, then, so holiness and compassion come from? They come from our suffering. And what is the point of enlightenment if it is an experience of meaninglessness? The point is freedom and ecstasy and joy.
Blair Mountain Press 2013
In Poems: What Love Is, the style shifts from what can be best described as performance pieces--Appalachian folk voices which an audience can respond to the humor of--then formal poems--often ballad-like, and rhymed and unrhymed shorter pieces, which are subtler and more subjective in tone. The subject is love in its many guises: romantic, filial, parental, intellectual and mystical. The need for love, and its often unrequited consequences, is the subject of Poems: What Love Is.
Blair Mountain Press 2012
After 2,500 years, Buddha’s silence on the question of metaphysical absolutes—are there meanings of reality transcendent of the material one—still lingers as a haunting fear that he was silent because he was kind enough (or wise enough) not to tell his followers that there are no transcendent meanings, that to know ultimate reality is to experience the meaningless meaning of the physical world, including ourselves as participants in it.
That meaninglessness is the premise on which the poems and essays in Twofold Consciousness are based. The poems, though with intellectual content enough, are an emotional response to the condition of self-conscious estrangement from the un-self-conscious universe, while the essays are a further exploration of the self as opposed to the Buddhist no-self—a distinction between consciousness and self-consciousness, which Buddhism isn’t clear about—self-consciousness as an illusory epiphenomenon of language—and the consideration that material reality is made tolerable by the ecstasy of the enlightened experience (an experience of noumenal reality), and by the compassion rising out of meaninglessness.
The phrase, twofold consciousness—in addition to the obvious distinction between poetry and prose—refers to our two states of consciousness—a mystical reality in which the self and all of life are affirmed, and an existential reality of self-conscious alienation, suffering and death, a reality made bearable by compassion.
Blair Mountain Press 2007
The fact of aging and death is so painful to contemplate that, ordinarily, one looks away, thus the final concern is resolved, if ever, at moments of crisis. In these poems, a very real effort was made to confront the subject directly, including the fear, sorrow and helplessness it brings to daily life, and whatever spiritual meaning there might be in the experiences, it is glimpsed as an afterthought of symbolic and mystical light.
The Dancing Dragon Poems
by Victor M. Depta
Blair Mountain Press, 2010
It’s not every day you come across a dancing dragon, a happy one whose felicitous ear can rhyme dragon and flagon, hopping and happening, and balderdash and bashing.
Not only that, he’s been sighted, variously, as a goose, a skink, a flamingo, a collie and the label on a can of orange pekoe tea. He’s an inveterate voyeur of the spiritual, a snoop and a gossip who just happens to overhear mystical conversations in the unlikeliest places, as in the dolphins’ pool at Sea World and in a monstrously big hole at Mammoth Caves.
If you like your mysticism on the wing, so to speak, then the airy dragon is a creature you can certainly turn to and trust. If you are mystically disinclined, the rhymes and lines, the fable and the fabulous should appeal. You might be able to recite a few of them to a child.
The Little Henry Poems
by Victor M. Depta
Blair Mountain Press, 2005
When I think of Little Henry
I want to dance in my pants
I'm so happy
and my repertoire is sort of rappy
but I hope not sappy
like I bought a new puppy
or a bowlful of guppies--
that's easy to do
because they're adorable
(grandsons, not pets)
when they drool on your chest
and your heart melts
like an old fedora
in a bowlful of sugar and butter
since what could be better
baked crusty and odorous
to wear on your head
except a big, white beret of meringue
for the dear thing.
Blair Mountain Press, 2003
Edwina Pendarvis is completely in the present but concerned with history, completely compassionate but tough with the clear-eyed truth, completely local but a citizen of the world. I trust this poetic voice and this vision which sees deeply into the life of the Appalachian world, human and animal, and sometimes, the divine.
Irene McKinney, West Virginia Poet Laureate
and editor of Backcountry: Contemporary Writing
in West Virginia (West Virginia University Press, 2002)
Blair Mountain Press, 2002
In this book of vivid, dramatic poems, the dominant image is that of the crane, the twenty-story dragline machine which becomes Azrael, the ancient Hebrew angel of death. He's wounded, isolated from God, and hauling himself insanely back and forth as he separates the mountain from its living grandeur.
That mechanical giant is used in mountaintop removal coal mining, and the people in the hollows below live in its destructive shadow, the West Virginians and Kentuckians who, with their wildly despairing humor and protest, tell us what it means to live in the chaos of mountaintop removal strip mining.
The poems bring attention to the need for economic and political reform in the coal mining region of Appalachia. They are a present-day reminder of environmental issues which affect everyone everywhere, and an Indictment-from an obscure mountain world-of our insatiable demand for energy.
Blair Mountain Press, 2001
It's amazing how accommodating a passion can be in a forbearing and enduring soul, how desire and longing will shape itself, like a creek, to the obdurate outcrop over which it flows, falling and gathering in pools, and flowing on again, murmuring and babbling between the moss and ferns, between the treelines of sycamore and beech. In this volume of poetry, Preparing a Room, Caleb is the obdurate, unmovable one, while Garvin and Judith are the stream, are the loving ones whose passion is shaped by the beloved. But Caleb is mountain stone, sandstone, and he is shaped, too, by the longing which flows into and over his life. He is deserving of love, but the cost is that of water against stone, of unlike elements which wear and suffer and are often beautiful.
Blair Mountain Press, 1999
The Silence of Blackberries is the fifth volume of poetry by Victor Depta. The poems are a mystical exploration of nature and the self at the end of our millennium. "What is common in bliss," says the poet, whose subject is not the great spectacles of nature, the Rockies or the Grand Canyon, but the creeks and hills of West Virginia and Tennessee. The poet describes that natural world--its small valleys and streams, its trees and flowers, insects and weeds--but does so with a mystical perspective. That world is integral to the universe, which is unitary and holy, and the poet becomes aware of that unity and holiness through quiet meditation. As the poet says, "the peaceableness which, once again, claims me, achingly, with the question of the silence of blackberries."