CHOKECHERRY HUNTERS AND OTHER POEMS
Chokecherry Hunters and Other Poems review:
“The small press in the West, despite countless adversities and the strange fluctuating politics of CCLM and COSMEP, is alive and well and thriving. As the center of American literary activity slowly (or in some cases, rapidly) shifts westward out of New York and the East Coast, several small presses and magazines seem literally to spring into existence every year, all bent on going the way made famous by other Western publishers like Allan Swallow and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. One of the many good-quality small presses in the West is The Sunstone Press, located in Santa Fe. For several years, Sunstone has reprinted many rare, hard-to-find pamphlets, tracts, and memoirs that were for the most part written by Westerners in the 19th century. Sunstone has also turned to issuing books of poetry by contemporary writers of New Mexico. One of these publications is Chokecherry Hunters and Other Poems by Joseph L. Concha.
“Chokecherry Hunters is the young 22-year-old Taos Pueblo Indian’s second book and it fulfills the promise prophesied for him by Stan Aiello years ago when the Taos Pueblo Council, at Aiello’s urging, published his first book, Lonely Deer: Poems of a Pueblo Boy. Since Lonely Deer, Concha has grown up, gone away to the university for awhile (and he continues to write despite that), moved back to Taos, and traveled around a bit, though mostly it has been a matter of travelling ‘far and wide’ in the Taos country.
“The second book reveals a deepening process, new realms of understanding, and a greater felicity of language—the poet who can write
Eight dollar mr. america shoes,
floating in warm rain water
it’s no fun being wet
but it’s better than sleeping
next to a dead cat
a thousand times before sunday afternoons
wished i was thinking of home
instead of last night . . .
shows both the expected playfulness and the surprising wisdom of one his age.
And, in the following:
When you go towards the valley,
to the beaver lodges,
tell your lover I never bothered
his traps and from wherever
the sun may feel
I couldn’t care.
the same fusion of playfulness and wisdom makes for excellent poetry.
Frank Waters’ generous introduction adds a remarkable quality to the book, illustrating with charity and vision the transcending of rage and age. In the case, not only is the chasm between White and Indian bridged, but the fifty-two years between these two Taos-based writers seems to unite rather than separate them. This is ever one of literature’s special qualities.
“Those of us who have known Joseph Concha for several years, and have watched his development as an artist, welcome this book and praise Sunstone for the foresight and good judgement in issuing it.”