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Robert Grunst

Robert Grunst

Robert Grunst was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was raised there and in Holland, Michigan. He taught 9th grade English in Midland, Michigan, and later worked as a deckhand and as an engineer aboard commercial fishing vessels on Lakes Michigan and Superior. He holds an M.F.A., an M.A.W., and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He has published many essays focusing on the language, culture, and history of Great Lakes commercial fishing people. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Review, and elsewhere. He is an Associate Professor English at The College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota.


The Smallest Bird in North America

The Smallest Bird in North AmericaThe Smallest Bird in North America

$14.00 paper | 62 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-932826-96-1
Publication Date: Oct. 2000
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An Inland Seas Poetry Book

"With the observational eye of Charles Darwin and the soul of John Muir, Robert Grunst is a first-rate naturalist. He takes us on a journey of the flora and fauna of his life in the Midwest and West, from the orchards of Michigan, to the waves of Lake Superior, to the grasses of Wyoming. Grunst focuses on the small object—the smelt, the bat, the morning-glory, the peach and pickled pear—to open up the larger vistas of his landscapes. The Smallest Bird in North America flies an intricate course, carries us a long distance."
         —Mary Swander

"The Smallest Bird in North America may be read for its enchanted visions. Its charm is rooted in the poet’s integrity, the ‘conscience’ of a man who has found what he loves. The book may be read, too, as the deposition of a man who intends to ‘fish’ his world, a world that, as he says, ‘we’d have measure us so well.’ Grunst’s is an intelligence and an eye I’ve trusted for over two decades now. It is a pleasure to see this body of poetic vision realized."
         —Sandra McPherson


Blue Faces

Out here in the oak-beech woods, they make themselves
up like this, first light: scaly knee-high stockings, lovely
feather stoles, red wattles at their throats, blue faces.
It’s a Grecian blue, blue like actors oiled their faces with
preparing, say, for the role of Tiresias, blue that sees
nothing and everything. Not sky blue: blue of inscrutable sky.
But listen, these are only turkeys, wild turkeys. They don’t
like company. They’re scrupulous, overturning leaves,
taking pains not to split their gorgeous nails searching
for beech nuts, leaving their glistening signature droppings
we mistook first for snails, and they’ve nothing to tell us,
only that they came this far and something disturbed
them, probably ourselves. Their summit was decisive.
They left this brief, this silence which they always leave.