"Dan Gerber''s Trying to Catch the Horses is his first full-length collection since his highly acclaimed selected poems, A Last Bridge Home, published in 1992. Many of these fifty-eight poems have appeared in the finest literary magazines and anthologies, including Poetry, New Letters, The Ohio Review, and The Best American Poetry 1999, selected by Robert Bly.
Long recognized as a meditative poet with an almost mystical connection to animals and the natural world, Gerber begins this collection with a quote from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: ''Contemplate seeing your bodily form present before you--in the trees, the grass and leaves, the river.'' In the manner of Rilke and Juan Ramon Jimenez, Gerber''s unadorned poems are acts of discovery, inviting us into a place deep within ourselves through a conversation between human consciousness and the consciousness of things. In the title poem ''Trying to Catch the Horses,'' the poet achieves his apparent goal not through will or ambition, but by letting go, to become ''a clump of grass they [the horses] must graze,'' and to reach up and touch ''the sky itself as far as it goes.'' In two of the book''s most riveting poems, Gerber focuses his imagination on both our century''s World Wars, envisioning a burst of shrapnel as a flight of blackbirds, and questions the entire enterprise of a great battle in the Pacific and how ''we never thought / of fish in the sea and how / this was their home though not their war. . . .''
Whether Gerber writes about horses or war, hiking a canyon or encountering a wolf, his backdrop is a profound silence against which these poems become necessary song.
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