Drawings by Dick Roberts and Doug Heinlein
Signed by the author.
60 pages: Paperback
“An exquisite blend of art and verse.” -Midwest Book Review
“…fiercely observant, honest and keenly sensitive, without self-pity…” -Ned Clay
“Roberts’s poems bring us to a place where we remember and might reclaim the kind of experience that both aches and heals at once…” -Paul Haenel
Contains the poem "Beach Glass" - a 2009 Pushcart Prize nominee.
In 2000, I asked my father, Dick Roberts, to illustrate some of my poems with the goal of self-publishing a small book. I’ve always admired his artistic talents, and I was interested in us doing something together that might outlive us and show someone someday that two creative people had been here and had contributed something of value to the culture.
I liked the results, and, thinking I may have only one opportunity to complete a project like this, I asked another old friend whose work I liked, Doug Heinlein, to illustrate additional poems.
In 2008, I stumbled across a book called Speaking Fire at Stones: Poems by William Carpenter and Drawings by Robert Shetterly (ISBN 0-88448-105-0 Tilbury House, Gardiner, ME 1992). It knocked me out. I decided to get off my ass, finish selecting and revising the poems, and publish “my” book. People familiar with Speaking Fire at Stones will, I hope, forgive me for the obvious “homage”.
Chatter in the Canopy was a glorious pain to finish. I hope it will be considered one more small contribution to what makes life worth living. – JR
Jeff Roberts’s poems know physics and landscapes. They know, too, how those things are inextricably connected—the large and the small; and whether we’re aware of this in our day-to-day lives or not, Mr. Roberts’s poems are. A poem that knows something we don’t—or one that reminds us of what we’ve always known but have forgotten—is the poem that connects or reconnects us with how we understand ourselves in the world, at times as participants and at others times as witnesses. Roberts gives us both of these perspectives and does so without editorial comment about which is the more rewarding or beneficial. Our natural state, his poems suggest, is that we’re participants and witnesses simultaneously, which is what our physics now seems to say is the case but which the physical as well as emotional landscapes we find ourselves in have always been more than ready to tell us if only we looked more closely and listened more attentively. Roberts’s poems bring us to a place where we remember and might reclaim the kind of experience that both aches and heals at once—the thing we come to poems for, in the end . . . a lost wisdom that poetry more than anything else tries to give back to us.
—Paul Haenel, Farewell, Goodbye, Wave Goodbye, Washington Writers’ Publishing House
I loved this work. Jeff Roberts has a unique mind - gorgeously precise and filled with whimsy. I smiled my way through many poems, but Roberts doesn't back away from darkness for a second. He is fiercely observant, honest and keenly sensitive, without self-pity. With an arsenal of craft at his call, he never abuses it. There is wonderful absurdity and wit in his work. Roberts’ poem The Boatman is an instant classic. For me this was a delightful book, very heartfelt, with illustrations filled with the same odd, unforgettable charm as the poems.
—Ned Clay, Love & Love Reclaimed, The Simple Press
Widely published and experienced poet Jeff Roberts brings poetry lovers a delight with "Chatter in the Canopy". His solid work with the English language is enhanced by great black and white art work from Dick Roberts and Doug Heinlein. An exquisite blend of art and verse, "Chatter in the Canopy" should be a consideration for many a poetry fan. "Seduction": It's the sand in your voice that holds me./That and the moonlight buttering your long ribs.//You can shout into the wind through cupped hands./I can smell the salt and wet canvas.//What if I surrender to your rolling, black valleys -/To the tops of mountains kissed away?//When we collapse, flat-faced and ordinary,/On tar-colored foam and a dead skate-what then?
—Midwest Book Review, http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/jun_09.htm#logan
The extraordinary illustrations in this book stand on their own as individual works of art, and they achieve synchronicity with the poems they illustrate. They are fine art by virtue of their conversion of common themes into uncommon and surprising visual experiences. The styles could not be more different. Dick Roberts communicates with the poems by layering clean, literal lines that showcase his love of subject and craft and technical expertise with pen and ink. Doug Heinlein borrows from, and adds to, the ancient ink and wash language of sumi-e, relying on the integrity of single brush strokes of various length and depth to build abstract visions with intense emotional impact. I am proud to be connected with each drawing, and touched that my poems are the recipients of such quality work. -JR
About the Author
Jeff Roberts lives in North Andover, Massachusetts with his wife, Barbara Hyle, and a hamster named Barney. Jeff's poetry has been published in The Aurorean, Meanie Magazine, Recursive Angel, 15 Credibility Street, Gotta Write, The Unpublished Author, The Hudson Street Review, The Pictish League, and Ectoplasmic Necropolis from Blood Pudding Press. Three poems have won awards in the annual Lawrence (Massachusetts) Eagle-Tribune Poetry Contest.
About the Illustrators:
Richard J. Roberts (Dick) is Jeff’s father. Dick is an artist, natural scientist, and historian and a life-long resident of Stamford, Connecticut where he has taken on the task of conducting a census of every gravesite in Stamford’s cemeteries. Dick studied art with Delos Palmer in the 40’s and in the 50s and 60s was the Curator of Exhibits at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. Dick can be contacted through Jeff.
Douglas D. Heinlein (Doug) was Jeff’s roommate in the army in the early 70’s. Doug is the Academic Director for the Graphic Design and Interactive Media Design Departments at the Art Institute of Seattle. Doug is also an award-winning artist and designer with many years experience in the conceptualization, development and deployment of interactive media, multimedia and traditional design practices. His previous professional experiences include closerlook, inc., JamTV/Rolling Stone Network, and Imagination Pilots. He is the parent of two teenage boys and proud (as they claim) to be a worse influence than the Internet and TV combined. Add two cats (one deaf) and a big ole mutt. Shake, then pour. You can visit Doug’s blog at http://47nx122w.blogspot.com
Email: jeffrobertspoetry [!at] gmail.com