Opening The World
by Dale Favier
Opening The World Reviews
"In Opening the World, the anticipated first collection of Dale Favier, rain mixes with snow and apple blossom, sidewalks are streaked with tears; crows and pigeons, urban detritus blown about by the wind— all these become unlikely signposts and sometimes shrines on the difficult path to awareness. Dale Favier makes no false promises about what we'll find, or that we'll even get there, wherever "there" ultimately is. Instead, like a good massage therapist (which I have on excellent authority that he is), he proposes that his readers open to the touch of these poems, make themselves vulnerable, even '…welcome every wave of misery/ as it arrives: make sure it's comfortable/ and feels free to stay.'
Some poems are not easy to read; but that's okay because, as he wisely perceives, 'nothing is free'. A story lies in the depths of many poems, like a cobra in hiding: if you let it lay with you it will ease its fangs into your heart. Some poems are like a pebble you can skip across the water, or cleave to cut 'the universe in half/ and [make] two new ones'" But above all, these poems are unabashed love letters always addressed to a "you"— they are poems looking for readers who 'don't want a value' but who 'want to understand a relationship/ …a way of saying what cannot be said.' Reading these poems, I'm strangely reassured that all of me, including what's 'unsanctified, unseemly, tatterdemalion,/ awkward and unkempt but full/ of the kind of undulant, unsteady courage/ the sun will never see, and never reckons on' — gets taken in, will never get turned away at the inn. Dale Favier reminds me we're all traveling the same road. How wonderful to have him along, for 'when gods and men go down…/ [his] heart is singing, singing.'"
Luisa A. Igloria, author of Juan Luna's Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press)
"Dale Favier is a new kind of American Buddhist poet, one less concerned with wisdom than compassion and desire, and as comfortable with the fables and paradoxes of the West as those of the East. His poems sing, chant, weep, declaim and delight. Earnest to a fault, yet always ready to indulge in foolishness and absurdity, Favier wears his erudition lightly and takes risks that few professional poets would take: 'They have not written this in books;/ they would not dare; they have their suppers to earn.' Johan Huizinga wrote in Homo Ludens that poetry 'proceeds within the play-ground of the mind,' and 'the true appellation of the archaic poet is vates, the possessed, the God-smitten, the raving one.' Favier is one of the few modern poets I know who seems to fit this ancient mold. Opening the World documents no mere dalliance with ideas, but a life-long, passionate struggle with gods and mortals, love and death."
Dave Bonta, poet, editor of Qarrtsiluni, publisher and author of Odes to Tools
This burning haunted summer, dry wells,
the taste of ash, the smoke
of creosoted beams. Wildfire
licks the grass.
I am tired of all this talk of heaven and hell.
I try, but my mind can find no purchase
scrabbling like a great dane on an ice rink —
I understand the stars pounding, thud thud thud
in the night sky, hurting my ears, stinging my eyes.
But all the rest, your cloisters, sitting-boxes —
no. But you are right about one thing:
there is something wrong, something twisted,
a breech presentation, a convolution
to confound the midwife. A foot wrong here;
an umbilical cord around the neck.
A rope is simple, said the philosopher, but
to untie a knot in it you must move it
in complicated ways. But the rope is simple.
Perhaps it's like that.
Or perhaps it is as simple as the dying master
who had one thing to say. His pupils leaned close
to hear his final teaching.
"I don't want to die," he said.
Now the snow is sifting down in Santiago;
it falls on tongues speaking soft Spanish;
it is winter in the Antipodes.
I lie down beside you in the little tent.
I say my prayers. I hold you tenderly:
the ghost of summer, holding winter
in its arms.
(from Opening The World)