~from Michaela Hayes
James Galvin, born in 1951, is a poet, novelist, and instructor. He has written seven books of poetry, most recently Everything We Always Knew Was True (2016), one novel, and a weird hodge-podge mix called The Meadow.
Galvin was brought to my attention only a few days ago when we spent a class period discussing him in my E403 class, Writing the Environment. He’s one of those writers who defies classical categorization or labels, a quality which is embodied in his work as well. In my class we’re reading The Meadow, a book consisting of interwoven prose/poetry blocks telling the true (but also partially fictionalized) story of the land of Northern Colorado and a set of people who once resided on it. There are several things that really drew me to this book. Firstly, and most superficially, it takes place on my, our, turf– the Front Range. In fact, the meadow that the book rests on is not too far from Fort Collins. Similarly, the first page of the book discusses the Poudre and Laramie rivers and other Coloradan landmarks. Pretty cool stuff.
The next thing about Galvin’s writing that called out to me was the way that he brings pieces of the world together. He does so through simile, metaphor, and other literary devices but his connections serve as more than just a writing technique. They are expansive and odd in how I’ve found that they’re able to shift the paradigm through which I see the world, if only slightly.
Finally, I admire and appreciate the message that he conveys about the land we live on. It is summed up well on the back cover of The Meadow: “Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain.” For the average American, this concept is a tough one to digest as it seems to run counter to our way of life. I don’t believe I was ever overtly socialized to see the land as something to be commercialized and used for our benefit, but I believe that that is often how our society functions. The idea that we belong to the land rather than the reverse fits comfortably in my brain.