High Water Mark

Prose Poems

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
Winner of the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2004 Best Books of Indiana

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.

80 Pages, 6 x 8.2 in.

October, 2004

isbn : 9780822958581

about the author

David Shumate

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.

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David Shumate