In a surprising turn of his pen, Bozeman poet, songwriter, memoirist, and retired MSU faculty Greg Keeler deploys the centuries-old form of the sonnet to skillfully manipulate imagery, diction, and tone in his new collection, The Bluebird Run.
Popularized by William Shakespeare in the 17th century, the sonnet is characterized by its 14 alternating rhymed lines. For poets and readers alike, form can often be restrictive. But in Keeler’s case, the sonnet showcases the author’s talents and his word choice, which is both precise and deeply evocative. At times sing-songy and at others penetrating, Keeler manages to bend this somewhat archaic form into complex tones and textures.
In the title poem, the “silly, flawed and left behind … followers of trickles gleaming” watch bluebirds as they make their fall pilgrimage into rural Wilsall and “rescind/ the winter for awhile.”
Reverence for nature is the focus of the lighthearted “Town Critters”: “Bunnies crowd the bushes by the lawns./ Near the stockyard, whitefish pock the stream./ Whitetails graze the hillside with their fawn./ Sandhills strut the fields as in a dream./… When petty matters put us in a spin, what solace these inhabitants give.”
By contrast, “Burning Bridges” condemns humanity for its careless treatment of the environment: “Though we’ve acquired a certain set of skills/ to insulate ourselves from social treason,/ something in our pulse rings worn-out ditties/ down the starlit corridors of sleep/ as if our lives were drawn up by committees/ with a thousand promises to keep.”
This multifaceted collection extends from funny to sentimental, broaching themes of love, loss, growing old, and humanity’s destiny amidst social, political, and ecological dilemmas. Find it at local bookstores and online.
– Brynn Cadigan