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avatar for David Axelrod

David Axelrod

Basalt
La Grande, Oregon
David Axelrod is the editor of basalt: a journal of fine and literary arts, and Sensational Nightingales: The Collected Poetry of Walter Pavlich, published by Lynx House Press. His new collection of poems, The Open Hand, appeared from Lost Horse Press in the autumn of 2017. His second collection of non-fiction, Accretions of Absence is forthcoming in the spring of 2019. Other work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in About Place, Cloudbank, CrazyHorse, Fogged Clarity, The Hopper, Hubbub, The Singing Bowl, and Terrain, among others.

David Axelrod’s second collection of nonfiction, The Eclipse I Call Father: Essays on Absence just appeared from Oregon State University Press. His eighth collection of poems, The Open Hand, appeared from Lost Horse Press in 2017. Axelrod wrote the introduction, “My Interests Are People,” for About People: Photographs by Gert Berliner, which appeared in the summer of 2018 from Arts End Books. Axelrod directs the low residency MFA and Wilderness, Ecology, and Community programs at Eastern Oregon University. In addition, he edits basalt: a journal of fine & literary arts, and serves on the editorial board of Lynx House Press.

In The Eclipse I Call Father: Essays on Absence, David Axelrod recalls a balmy night in May 1970 when he vowed to allow no one and nothing he loves to pass from this life without praise, even if it meant praising the most bewildering losses. In each of these fourteen essays Axelrod delivers on that vow as he ranges across topics as diverse as marriage, Japanese poetry, Craftsman design, Old English riddles, racism, extinction, fatherhood, mountaineering, predatory mega-fauna, street fighting, trains, the Great Depression, and the effects of climate change—accretions of absence that haunt the writer and will likewise haunt readers.

The essays in this collection grew from a ten-year period when the author found himself periodically living and working abroad, wondering why foreign landscapes haunted him more than the familiar landscapes of the inland Pacific Northwest he called home. Each place had a long history of habitation, but at home he was blind, unable to see past the surfaces of things. Axelrod examines many aspects of that phenomenon in these pages, framing surface realities and imagining the scale and scope of that surface, but also trying to sense what is absent or changed, and how, despite its absence, the unseen accretes to ever-greater densities and persists as something uncanny.

Curious, alert, and keenly observant, these essays probe the boundaries between what is here and what is gone, what is present and what is past, in elegant prose. Readers familiar with Axelrod’s poetry will find a new facet of his lyrical gifts, while those encountering his work for the first time will be richly rewarded by the discovery of this Northwest literary talent.