A cascade of coincidences. Kyle White and Jane Hertenstein, both writers of flash and THE SAME BIRTHDAY.
I discovered Kyle’s work, Wisconsin River of Grace, when he was doing a reading at Everybody’s Coffee. I never intended to buy the book, but had to once I opened it and read a snippet (the good thing about flash is you can dive in anywhere and get a taste). Since that 2012/2013 publication he has continued fermenting flash.
Bear With Me is a field journal that reads as a contemplative children’s book. In the sense that I could see it being shared with the whole family, the meaning explicit on so many levels. Just like a good Jon Scieszka book—there is something there for the adult and younger folk to hang their hat on. Mostly I enjoyed the pace of Bear With Me: short, pithy haiku-type entries with a unspoken “selah” at the end where one can sit and pause, ruminate over the importance of hibernation, relaxing, listening to your body, nature calling, living in tune with the seasons. Such as a bear drinking coffee in a birch grove puffing on a pipe. Giving space to ourselves to think and breathe deeply.
Sky getting lighter.
Finally back to sun’s warmth.
But naps end, sadly.
Solitutde: pipe smoke,
Morning prayers, walks, sketchbook,
Coffee, toast, butter.
The simplicity of the lines is like a spell, a kind of wake-hibernation. Bear With Me is a cozy read. *Illustrations are also by Kyle L. White
Neighbor As Yourself (2016) is a collection of flash observations. The subtitle explains: Midwest essays, poems, etcetera.
It is the act of knowing we are not alone, that all around us are people—some lonely, solme frustrated, some frustrating.
One essay details a spring break to remote Washington Island in—let’s be honest—winter (as soring breaks are wont to be). The writer discovers an Eastern Orthodox monastery chapel and spends time each morning just being in that sacred (unheated) space before joining the party of others, his friends gathered to grill and vacate during a vacation. I sense the quiet, the candlewax, the rough wood board walls. I see tiny rabbit tracks in the snow which refreezes every night. Another selection enumerates (get it!) the writer’s brief career as a census enumerator.
Winter is Scissors (2018) is his latest project, consisting of 31 flash essays or “daily” readings for winter. The daily is not tied to any particular day, so can be randomized. Dipped into. I’m particularly looking forward to Winter is Scissors because of the fact that winter has come early to Illinois/Chicago. Last week we had a Halloween snowstorm and this weekend we will have a double-dip Artic blast (two in one) with forecasts into the 20s. Brrr. I can just imagine the Bear in Bear With Me shivering inside his furcoat and snuggling deeper under covers. There are so many life analogies one came make about enduring winter, watching the titmouse peck up and down the walkway for a crumb, the lonely tree branches dark against a winter sky. We see these things and know that if we can just hold out that the sun will return. To cold, barren fields, to the winter-bleached concrete buildings with “smoke” coming out of the stacks on frigid mornings. We wait in hope, because spring has always come before.
check out: https://www.facebook.com/KyleWhiteInk/