Quinton Duval loved the Delta region. He and his wife Nancy made their home there until his untimely death at 61 a year ago. "In the breeze," the poet writes, "I sometimes smell the sea. . . . She lies / back--picnic basket, blanket under /cottonwood, a day when clouds slow / to see her shining there. Good Lord, / thank you for the chicken, the cold / wine, the river coming down from / its source. Thank you for lips, a tongue, / and some imagination. For finger- / tips and skin warmed by sunlight. / Thank you for the sea, for what the river / discovers at its end, what waits / for all of us to come calling." ("Oceanic")
Duval was a creative writing instructor at Solano Community College and founded chapbook publisher Red Wing Press. His friend, poet Gary Thompson (who taught writing at Chico State University), worked with Duval in the last days of his life to bring together "Like Hay: Last Poems" ($16 in paperback from Chico's Bear Star Press).
Thompson will be reading from Duval's poetry, and from his own new collection, "To the Archaeologist Who Finds Us," at a book release celebration at Lyon Books in Chico, Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Duval's poems are clear-minded and poignant. "They smell like hay to me, / your last sweet words / blown across the fields / of the bedroom and out / the window to join the real breeze / moving the trees and changing / May light from green to gold." ("Like Hay") "I am sixty and changing too, / my dreams filled with sea- / water and flickering fires on some shore." ("Late Summer") "Some of us cry in joy, relief, / in the thin clear stream of music / the body gives willingly away / as it collapses, exhausted, into dust." ("Red Memory")
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"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," William Kamkwamba, is scheduled to speak Thursday, April 14 at Laxson Auditorium as part of the "Book in Common" program (www.butte.edu/bic or www.csuchico.edu/bic). My review is available on this blog. Ticket prices range from $10 for students and children to $20 for premium; for details, go to chicoperformances.com.