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October 2004
80 pages  

6 x 8 1/4
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High Water Mark
Prose Poems
Shumate, David
Winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. These fresh and unpredictable prose poems annouce the arrival of an exciting new voice. Every page is filled with unexpected delights.

Winner, 2004 Best Books of Indiana (poetry category)

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David Shumate is the author of The Floating Bridge and High Water Mark, winner of the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared widely in literary journals and has been anthologized in Good Poems for Hard Times, The Best American Poetry and The Writer's Almanac. Shumate is poet-in-residence at Marian University and lives in Zionsville, Indiana.
“This is the best, most spectacular book of prose poetry to be published in years. David Shumate is an original writer because he does not play tricks with language or worry about what kind of stance he will take. The poems are woven from a natural voice that uses daily human knowledge and experience to paint timeless portraits that reverberate with imagination and a trust in simple language. The result is a book that emerges from the growing self-consciousness of the prose poem to show us how straight-ahead vision carries the most weight. Awarded the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, this writer is headed for great things.”—Bloomsbury Review, March/April 2005

"David Shumate's High Water Mark is absolutely fresh and unpredictable. I hope it gathers the attention of everyone who truly cares for poetry in our time. You will be surprised by your confrontation with the utterly first rate." —Jim Harrison

"One of the many joys of reading David Shumate's High Water Mark is seeing how far he will take each of his enchantingly outlandish premises. The mind as landscape filled with babies, writing tablets, and made-up memories leads each one of these prose poems not only to their logical (and sometimes illogical) conclusions, but also well beyond. . . . His eccentricities are instructive, his surprises revelations." —Denise Duhamel

"Just when the possibilities of the prose poem seem exhausted, along comes David Shumate. Beneath his deceptively simple style lurks a vision as haunting as Kafka's and as playful and intelligent as Julio Cortazar's. But Shumate's voice, the authority he brings to his tales, is original and authentic whether he's breathing life into old narratives or inventing new ones, while, at the same time, proving that metaphor is alive and well and even, alas, illuminating. It's hard to believe that High Water Mark is a first book." —Peter Johnson

“An impressive first book--impressive for its consistency of strength and the range that Shumate is able to display within a single and stereotypically limiting form: the prose poem. . . . Memorable for its surprising leaps and turns, and, within its pages, Shumate proves that he is nothing if not a poet of imagination.”--Crab Orchard Review

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

Everyday mindreading, a house full of Buddhas, and the papaya scent of the soul. An interview with Custer at a place of his choosing, “probably a steakhouse.” The ability of dogs to smell the uncool. Hitler's barber imagines what might have been if only he'd leaned his weight into the razor. An oblivious Coronado narrowly avoids an ambush on the American plains. Freud lecherously lifts the skirt of a Mexican housekeeper who has far too much work to be bothered by “a pillar of modern thought. Or just some dirty old man.” In lesser hands such disparate elements might fly wildly out of control. But in David Shumate's understated, brilliant prose poems, they come together in miraculously vivid riffs. The narrator of the title poem rhapsodizes, “I wouldn't mind seeing another good flood before I die. It's been dry for decades. Next time I think I'll just let go and drift downstream and see where I end up.” Shumate's deft and refreshing collection takes us to amazing places with its plainspoken meditations.


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