Scarecrow Oracle in the Inlander

After more than a decade as a luminous leader in Spokane’s poetry scene, Mark Anderson is celebrating the release of his debut collection, Scarecrow Oracle. The former Spokane Poet Laureate (2017-19), also founder of the weekly Broken Mic series and a frequent publisher of poetry in local anthologies and publications (including the Inlander), has compiled several dozen poems composed in recent years into the 86-page collection. Anderson’s rhythmic, reflective compositions take root in childhood memories, yearnings for love and remembrance, our instinctual fear of death and loss, and wonder at how a single fleeting moment can trigger emotions that rattle us to the core.

Chey Scott

Scarecrow Oracle June 4 Release Party

Cover Art by Tiffany Patterson

Design by Thom Caraway

For the book by Mark L. Anderson

Soon to be published by Korrektiv Press

Jess Walter on Scarecrow Oracle

Mark Anderson is the oracle of memory and longing, of hide-a-beds and rusted Chevys. And these poems show him writing with his trademark sense of wonder and humor and place. I really enjoyed this collection.

—Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions

Scarecrow Oracle, Coming Soon

Mark Anderson’s Scarecrow Oracle (coming soon from Korrektiv Press) opens by “Going Backwards to Where It Starts” and then takes us forward through the speaker’s childhood into his early adulthood, traveling through time as he stays rooted in place–the Spokane Valley, The Empyrean Coffee Shop, the Rockford Fair. The question the speaker is always asking is how to live in a world steeped in loss. Early in the collection, the young speaker asks a dandelion this question, and in response, “it lets go of everything it has ever been.” Towards the end, the older speaker, less stunned now by the dandelion’s quick vanishing, tells us as he performs the ordinary act of making his bed, “I want to be ready to be a ghost or a nothing…./ And when the time comes I part the curtains / and let in the astonishing day.” Anderson’s book translates the silences and fears of childhood and early loss into a series of images that answer, beautifully and without explanation, his difficult question. — Laura Read

When you live inside Mark Anderson’s poems, someone a bit like an oracle speaks to you in almost but not-at-all ordinary speech, you give up sleep for most of your life, death crowds close but the poet bravely writes it away, you feel the terror of a crawl space and the patience of a jellyfish with the “body of a half-sealed / Ziplock bag / flushed down the / grime filled gutter, / inexplicably filled / with life / instead of a sandwich,” and you learn “We came to the Earth to have / feelings.”  And you have feelings. It’s an extraordinary place to be.   — Kathleen Flenniken

Mark L. Anderson lives and writes in Spokane, Washington. He co-founded the popular Broken Mic spoken word poetry series and has traveled the United States performing at open mics, poetry slams, taverns, coffee shops, and libraries. From 2017 to 2019 he served as Spokane’s poet laureate. Scarecrow Oracle is his first book.

The Korrektiv Iceberg

See also: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/iceberg-tiers-parodies

Above the trees, the sky is bright

Cyrano Like

Potter Interview

one sweet moment’s flagrant mystery

The Writer’s Almanac, July 22, 2021

Coincidentally the same title

as a Bob Dylan song you might have heard

Pre-Plague London

Brian Jobe Hiding Out on Twitter

The Bed

Kierkegaard, Potter, Keillor, and Frost

Blurbs

When I asked GK for a blurb
I worried that I might disturb
The genius at work—
But he didn’t shirk
Providing a blurb so superb.

And then there’s that Jonathan J.
Whose blurb lit some fire to my hay
For a great conflagration
Of sweet adulation
And mythmaking making the day.

Now Ms. Wright can blurb with the best
And her blurb came last but impressed
With fantastic words
That gave flight to birds
From a Petrarchan palimpsest nest.

If I Could Fly on TWA

Tulips Sans Chimneys

Tulips for Elsie cover image

Mr. Potter’s given us a bold adventurous book with plenty of sharp turns at high speed, with some gestures toward Neruda and Merwin but also “Sk8,” a gr8 skateboarding poem, and sonnets, and brave ventures into rhymed verse, poems for friends and relatives, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening,” and poems of passionate love with angels looking down from above. Plus tulips and Elsie. —Garrison Keillor

I have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Potter’s poetry for years and rejoice at the arrival of this new collection with its unabashed delight, authentic intimacy, and emotionally convincing, often playful music. Potter is at turns a graceful, organic monologist and a wry, deft formalist. These are poems of generous mythmaking, self-deprecating humor, passion, and the glories of fatherhood. They inhabit a Seattle of historical icons and the poet’s own skateboarding youth, a London of “tidy grime” and love, and the derelict and divine streets and poetry community and waterfall of Spokane, this poet’s answer to Williams’ Paterson. By the time Potter wishes he could “become myself with vengeance / and take you with me,” he has done both. —Jonathan Johnson

In an era of poetry that plumbs humanity’s darker depths, it is a pleasant respite to read Jonathan Potter’s Tulips for Elsie, a collection that wears its pathos and its prosody lightly as it confronts life’s familiar concerns—love, sex, family life, and his beloved native place (Spokane, Washington)— with full-bodied affection and gentle irony. Many poems here are sonnets—not just Petrarchan or Shakespearean but also Onegin stanzas!—yet Potter makes rhyming in these conversationally-toned fourteeners look effortless. Particularly engaging are the portrait sonnets featuring poets and writers associated with Spokane (Alexie, Howell, Walter among them), the longer poems about the poet’s lively and accomplished daughters, and the poetic palimpsests replying to or parodying well-known classics. By the time we finish reading, we may feel ourselves, with the poet, to have “co-authored  . . . a beautiful book of longing.” —Carolyne Wright