BOOK REVIEW By Jonah Raskin
Jaxon’s Press; 2010
I read a lot of poetry and discover new poets all the time, but I haven’t read a book of poems recently as wonderful as Ken Rodgers’s Passenger Pigeons. Perhaps that’s because I know Rodgers and when I read his poems to myself I can see him and hear him. That helps bring the poems alive and so they reverberate in my head. Rodgers has a distinctive voice and it positively bounces off the pages in Passenger Pigeons.
There’s something intensely physical about the poems, too. The human body comes through, comes across whether it’s his own body, or the bodies of others, human as well as animal. There’s a wide range of poems, variations on themes, and always something new and surprising on the next page, and the page after that. Passenger Pigeons holds one’s attention.
The elegant chapbook is published by Jaxon’s Press. It has nearly three dozen poems that take readers around the country, across rivers, and into the past, too, in eye-opening poems such as “Auschwitz” and “Joe Stalin.”
I recommend this book to old friends of Ken Rodgers who want to become reacquainted with his voice. I also recommend it to those who have never heard him read and who can discover a distinctive western American poet who pays homage to the earth and shows us the fragility of our ties to the earth. Passenger Pigeons takes wing and soars.
At the regular monthly luncheon for the Idaho Media Professionals, on June 15, 2011, Ken Rodgers and his wife Betty and videographer Mark Spear talked about (and showed an excerpt from) Ken and Betty’s documentary film on Ken’s company of Marines at the Siege of Khe Sanh, Vietnam, titled Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor.
For more information, contact Ken at 208-340-8889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.