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As Details Become Available



Author Photo Craig Challender teaches American literature and creative writing at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, where he also directs the Longwood College Authors Series. His first full-length collection, Familiar Things (Linwood Publishers) has been critically acclaimed by Prairie Schooner and Northweast; his poems and reviews have frequently appeared or are forthcoming in South Dakota Review, Connecticut Review, Tar River Poetry, The Midwest Quarterly, The Paterson Literary Review and Chelsea.


Pecan Grove Press

Dancing on Water
Craig Challender



"Dancing and music permeate Craig Challender’s important new collection, Dancing on Water. Fatherhood and family life lie at the center of this book where home life is not a burden, but a complex source of joy. Revealing a willingness to love even those who cannot be claimed as blood kin, lyrical poems about adopting two daughters, and the birth of another provide epiphanic moments of affirmation. Never compromising tenderness, Challender does not exploit the heart, knowing that real dancers dance alone, even in love. Transporting us from everyday experience, Challender binds us to his world by sensual detail while he plays cards or passes a burlap wrapped jug back and forth with his father. Deeply rooted in place, his poems detail the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Outer Banks, the death of a lone swimmer in Lake Lakota, and drinking Blatz beer at a bowling alley in South Dakota. Because the poems refuse to let passion and laughter get swallowed up by dailiness, Dancing on Water stays lodged in our minds, anchored in our hearts, reminding us why we need to dance, even in a world that threatens to drown our songs."

—Vivian Shipley



Bleeding Heart Liberal Poem

I-90 draws a bead on
Black Hills, shoots straight
West River till Badlands
bend it north near Wall.
By car its trajectory
takes eight hours to trace.

Some where at dusk
in Buffalo Gap Grassland
are shapes urged from earth:
He Sapa haystacks,
stained with dark magic.
This year’s batch is bread;

crimp-toppedloaves.  But
others melt, mold—
piles of prairie curing black.
Light fades, hay makes
into rock face, clots
of dung, rotting buffalo.
Night blots them out.  White
arrows float through glass.



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November 11, 2003

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