Stronger Than the Current
by Mark Thalman
In Stronger Than the Current, Mark Thalman describes the dangerous work of logging in the early 1900’s, and the hardships these Oregonians faced. Thalman then continues the historic journey with poems depicting important historical events: the drowning of Celilo Falls, the hurricane known as the Columbus Day Storm, and the Tillamook Forest Fire—powerful as a hydrogen bomb. Many of the poems reveal how residents are resilient to the weather. Helen McCready keeps a rowboat tied to her front porch because of winter floods. Another person watches goats and uses them as a barometer to predict the daily forecast. The Tillamook feast in their lodges while telling stories of the widow who cannot stop crying. These lyrical poems paint memorable landscapes, Sage grows low so wind can go where it wants—whistling through wire fences.
About the Author
Mark Thalman is the author of The Peasant Dance (Cherry Grove Collections, 2020) and Catching the Limit (Fairweather Books, 2009). His work has been widely published for four and a half decades. His poems have appeared in the Paterson Review, The MacGuffin, Pedestal Magazine, and Valparaiso Review. He is the editor of poetry.us.com. Thalman received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, then taught English and Creative Writing in the public schools for 35 years and is now retired. Thalman lives in Forest Grove, Oregon.
Early Praise for Stronger Than the Current:
Mark Thalman sets us working in the wet woods of Oregon. We feel the bark, smell the smoke, hear the saws, and watch as “rain glistens like salmon scales/ on the tip of an eagle’s beak.” These vignettes of the 1920s through 60s relive the beauty and passing of a wilder heritage. I was moved and haunted by “Arlington, Oregon, 1956,” where a boy imagines the Columbia rising behind John Day Dam, his mother telling him, “everything will be under water/ like the castle in your fishbowl.” And I worried, smiled and cheered for Helen McCready of “Mapleton.” Though she loses her prize tulips to the surging Siuslaw, she ties a rowboat to the porch, remains “stronger than the current” and casts for salmon. These well-crafted poems embody the simple, indestructible beauty of Oregon and its people.
—Henry Hughes, Oregon Book Award Winner
These sturdy, brief, plainspoken poems have a distinctive Made-in-Oregon stamp to them. There are logging poems and landscape poems—weather and landscape figure prominently in them—and poems of Oregon history. The Tillamook Burn and Celilo Falls . . . and “Finley’s Pasture” where “Four Belgians, ebony titans, long retired,/ graze the green pasture.” Modest, quiet poems, unassuming, but rich in substance and detail, like a good meal they stick with you.
—Clemens Starck, Oregon Book Award Winner and author of Cathedrals & Parking Lots