River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir

9781602232273by John Morgan; artwork by Kesler Woodward
University of Alaska Press, 2014

River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir is a book-length poem that takes readers on a weeklong raft trip down a river in southcentral Alaska. Bears, eagles, moose, seals, otters, and salmon inhabit the poem’s world, and the landscapes shift between glaciers, mountains, rapids, and waterfalls. The trip becomes a spiritual journey journey as well, as the poem includes commentary by fifteenth-century Indian mystic poet Kabir (pronounced kuh-BEER), who serves as a mentor to the narrator. The raft trip described in the poem took place in 2003, the year in which the second Iraq War began, so the war is on the narrator’s mind and becomes a metaphor for his inner struggles. However, the main story of the poem is the trip itself, which is influenced and shaped by the river’s waves and currents, and the wildlife and scenery that provide frequent surprises for the travelers. This volume includes artwork by Alaska artist Kesler Woodward. Woodward participated in the original raft trip and makes an appearance in the poem as well.

John Morgan was born in New York. He earned his MFA degree at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets’ Prize. He has perviously published four books of poetry, four chapbooks, and a collection of essays. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, PoetryAmerican Poetry Review, Paris Review, New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Yale Review, and other magazines and anthologies.

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