A literary journal from Hastings College in Nebraska, “Plainsongs” has recognized the poetic contributions of West Plains writer Dave Malone with its Plainsongs Award for his work “Progress,” featured in Malone’s latest collection, “You Know the Ones.”
The semi-annual publication in its fall 2016 issue included the poem with a review from one of its associate editors, Becky Faber, comparing Malone’s portrayal of aging veterans of war with the theme evoked by acclaimed novelist Bobbie Ann Mason in her novel “In Country.”
“Progress” is one snapshot of many in Malone’s newest book, filled with linguistically-captured still frames nailing down likewise specific and obscure moments in time. The stories told, anecdotes from Malone’s family history, are short and reflective and centered in the Ozarks.
Malone, whose poetry is often set in the Ozarks, said he tried to make the stories accessible to readers in hopes that they would resonate. The pages are filled with memories and observations of rural life, car accidents, family quirks, and within those are traits uniquely distinct to the Ozarks region – and also to the human experience.
“You Know the Ones” is Malone’s seventh collection, published via Golden Antelope Press, a small operation based in Kirksville. He’s also penned poetic collections “O: Love Poems from the Ozarks,” “Poems to Love and the Body,” “23 Sonnets,” “Under the Sycamore,” “Seasons in Love” and “View From the North Ten: Poems after Mark Rothko’s No. 15;” private eye fiction, “Not Forgiven, Not Forgotten;” and a nonfiction work celebrating 150 years of Ottawa (Kan.) University history, “Ottawa University: 150 Years of Significance – Spirit and Story.” He has also dabbled as a playwright, co-authoring “The Hearts of Blue Whales” with Kansas City resident Kerry Doan.
The latest collection can be found where his other books are sold: in West Plains at The Frame Shop & Gallery that he co-owns with wife Jenni Wichern, 3 Court Square; Aid Downtown Antiques, 1 Court Square; and the Book Nook, 203 Washington Ave.; in Springfield at Barnes & Noble on Glenstone Ave.; and online at Amazon.
Malone said fans of his writing can hear him read select poems during the Missouri State University-West Plains Ozarks Symposium to be held in September.
“I so appreciate my fans’ support,” Malone told the Quill. “At a recent party celebrating my new book, I was moved by their interest in my work.”
“No one dozed off while I read a couple of poems,” he added with a laugh.
Initially Malone wouldn’t say much about what he’s working on, citing superstition, but he did share that he has completed a manuscript containing 52 poems, “Cuneiform: The Foot Book.” Each poem represents a bone in the foot, he said, noting that he took inspiration from a “troublesome ankle from running.”
“Cuneiform” is penned in iambic diameter – “two poetic feet,” he explained – in which alternating lines rhyme and alternating syllables are stressed, with the foot as the focus, though Malone says he also incorporates his traditional Ozarks and universal themes.
To learn more visit Malone’s website, davemalone.net.
The poem “Progress,”
as penned by Malone:
“Early morning, the old men bunker
at the cafe. Thirty years ago,
they were World War II vets,
my grandfather’s claw hands among them,
where he wrestled yawns to the table –
his neck bearing the weight of brick labor.
“Today the seats fill with Korean vets,
sprinkled with napalm-hearted Viet Nam men.
Their faces are wrinkled black and tan,
the fate of small-town pride.
“The words slow
among them for a moment
when shutter shades clatter,
then hump slivers of sunlight.
At a grenade’s-distance
in the beauty parlor, their wives
groom progress – muted mettle
on the other side of the glass.”