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home : out and about : out and about April 17, 2015

11/15/2013 6:47:00 PM
BOOK BEAT | New work from Tim McNulty
(Left) “Ascendance,” by Tim McNulty and “Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse,” by Barbara Botherton, Sheila Farr and John Haworth
(Left) “Ascendance,” by Tim McNulty and “Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse,” by Barbara Botherton, Sheila Farr and John Haworth
“You Won’t Need That,” by Robert Gregory
“You Won’t Need That,” by Robert Gregory
By Mike Dillon

By Mike Dillon


Tim McNulty is a Northwest treasure. 

The poet, essayist and nature writer, who lives on the Olympic Peninsula, has authored numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including “Olympic National Park: A Natural History,” which won the Washington Governor’s Writers Award. A superb poet grounded in the sensibilities of the Pacific Rim, McNulty renders our world in quietly luminous detail — the “pith and the gist,” as Ezra Pound would say.

McNulty’s latest volume of poetry, “Ascendance,” is a lesson for poets and non-poets on the rewards of paying attention: “the quiet bird waits/attentive in the shallows/at perception’s edge,” he writes.

In “Winter Solstice: Moonrise at Century’s End,” the big and close full moon of 1999 — the closest in 130 years — is his subject. Watching the moonrise with his young daughter, he’s asked: “Why don’t we do this every night?” And McNulty, for whom discretion and humility are a poet’s tools, muses: “If I tell her the truth,/what will she think of me?”

These are outdoor poems ranging across the region, from Upper Lena Lake to the Hoh Valley, Quinault and the Methow Valley. McNulty’s great gift, especially for those know the Northwest, is to deliver a pleasurable shock of the familiar: 

Snow trickles into a still pool;

a sheet of glass

widens across the stars.

“Ascendance,” by Tim McNulty, published by Pleasure Boat Studio. 122 pages; $16 paperback.

Essays accompaniment

The Seattle Art Museum’s first major U.S. exhibition of Haida artist Robert Davidson has triggered a nicely illustrated and written book to accompany the show: “Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse.” The exhibit, which runs through Feb. 16, 2014, mainly focuses on the pivotal Northwest Coast artist’s work since 2005. 

The book’s three essays include a quick, no-nonsense walk through Northwest artistic traditions by former Seattle Times art critic Sheila Farr. Farr’s essay — like the work of Regina Hackett, her counterpart at the Seattle P-I before it went digital-only — is a reminder of two huge, blank spaces in Seattle arts writing. 

“Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse,” by Barbara Botherton, Sheila Farr and John Haworth, published by University of Washington Press. 104 pages; 60 color illustrations. $40 paperback.

Poetry coming to life

Willow Springs Editions in Spokane continues to challenge and delight with its small poetry volumes that spring to mysterious life when you open them. “You Won’t Need That,” by Kentucky poet Robert Gregory is the latest. 

As Andrei Cordrescu has written of his work: “Robert Gregory is a different sort of guide. The country he travels hasn’t been mapped; it is, in fact, coming into being as he speaks.”

High praise from a fine connoisseur of the uncanny. 

Here’s a small taste: “The winter is an eye/is watching things that are/not as though they were….”

“You Won’t Need That,” by Robert Gregory, published by Willow Springs Editions. 44 pages. $10.95 paperback.

MIKE DILLON is former publisher of City Living Seattle. To comment on this column, write to

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