OYO, The Beautiful River: An Environmental Narrative in Two Parts
poems by Mark B. Hamilton
OYO, The Beautiful River is environmental literature, a book-length sequence of lyric narratives written from a journey down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois, in a fifteen-foot rowing dory. It explores the vulnerability of identity and relationships within this oftentimes polluted and quickly changing place we call home, our nation, this world. A theme of reciprocity develops between self and river, between the human and the elemental, and honors the First Nations with a belief that justice and compassion are the appropriate and inevitable outcomes to the respect we give to the Earth.
POETRY / Subjects & Themes / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-951651-37-4 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Released October 2020
Mark B. Hamilton is perhaps the only living person to have traced the entire Lewis and Clark Expedition route on their approximate time-table, traveling as they did by paddle and pack mule, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the Pacific Ocean, and the return to St. Louis, Missouri—a 3-year, 8,000-mile journey. Honored in recognition by the National Park Service, his efforts in this field continue with research and writings centered on cultural environmental values.
He has been a shipwright, English professor, editor, and caseworker for Children and Youth Services. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised in the small town of North Granby, he attended university at Miami, San Diego, and Missoula, earning the MFA in poetry with extensive work in literature and American studies from the Writers Workshop, University of Montana.
His poetry has won state and national awards, being published widely in the US, and abroad in the UK, Japan, Greece, Germany, and Austria. Select honors include: a Matthew Hansen Endowment for Wilderness Studies, the National Panhandler Chapbook Award, a National Poetry Anthology Contest Award, an Indiana State National Endowment for the Arts for Visiting Artists, an Indiana Governor’s Award, and two Colorado Annual Poetry Awards, along with a readership at the American Antiquarian Society, and literary fellowships at UCROSS and the Center for Art & Ecology.
“Mark B. Hamilton’s astonishing new full-length collection, OYO The Beautiful River, is a meditation on nature, the environment, and humanity. The poet reminds us that ‘Time follows like a hound, / like a scent in the wind / in the bushes rushing past,’ and with ‘Hidden Voices’ ‘The river clears out debris, sifting / and digesting, washing pollutants away.’ However, the poet also warns the reader that ‘Factories will seem warm, even friendly; / flare stacks will be graceful under the billows of vapor, / those thin blankets that cover the land; / while children half-asleep will hear their parents / going off to work in little clouds of muffler smoke. / It will be the storm, and the coming of the storm.’ It is Hamilton’s deft skill that anchors the reader to each line throughout penetrating and wondrous landscapes.”
“You’ve written beautifully about . . . a wonderful adventure.”
“The natural world as seen from a rowboat—close up, beneath us, and all around—achieves a stunning presence in this simple, straightforward poem, made all the more effective by way of its uncontrived diction, brilliant imagery, and a certain sense of understatement connecting the reader to something undeniably spiritual.”
“ . . . a keen eye and a wise voice . . . a major text to American environmental literature and poetry.”
“Mark Hamilton is Lewis & Clark’s Homer, and [OYO] is the first part of his own odyssey in their resilient wake. The log of his river trip, temarkably told in trenchant verse, is a wail and a love song to the mighty, diminished, yet still seductive OYO, the great drainage that would become Ohio. Of all the Lewisian & Clarkian that flowed from their bicentennial in its torrent, this epic poem is the single most compelling piece to me—a personal response and refraction that leaves me more than eager for the next part. Westward, ho!”
Lauren Frick, “Book Review: OYO The Beautiful River,” EcoLit Books, August 10, 2020
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