Cartography of Water
Mike Burwell’s poetry is hauntingly evocative. The love of the natural world and that of Alaska is clearly evident as he navigates his reader on a steady current of powerful images. Burwell’s poems focus on nature, but he is not a nature writer. He is a lover of his world and his poetry reflects this deep connection. Each poem is a thoughtful mapping of the world around him.
Distributed for NorthShore Press by the University of Alaska Press
"From the opening poem of this fine collection, where the speaker announces himself
coconspirator to the sexy moon that “runs” him, to the final poem’s “still life of
leaf and cone, poised in death,” these lyrical meditations repeatedly position themselves
vis-à-vis a spectacular, uncontainable, and humbling landscape. The author knows when
to listen, how to filter winds and currents, seasons and storms, as his words “fall
off the headlands.” This is not “nature poetry,” whatever that is, but a stunning
prayer, sensual and secular, to the earth that the poet adores. He wisely fears that
earth a little, too, since it claims us all comment or care. I’ve been an admirer
of Mike Burwell’s work since I published him in Poems and Plays a dozen years ago,
and Cartography of Water is long, long overdue. As this talented poet moves your hands across the “cool waist
of the planet,” breathe deeply that dizzying Alaskan heaven, and enjoy."
"Here, in Cartography of Water, the quietude of the untamed, wilder world is kept company by the wilderness of one
man's longing and loud ache. Wolves appear, and bears, and the rusty remnants of old
miners' dreams. Also a suffering son, born into his father's world on the back of
a meteor shower. Against the beauty and terror of life, the poet holds to words which
manage, in turn, to capture and hold up for us some remnant of the brief joys of his
world, actual and imagined."
"Mike Burwell’s poems remind me of movement of a glacial river, powerful and true.
This is the work of a mature poet, one who is sure of his craft and his place in the
world. Cartography of Water is a most welcome addition to Alaskan literature."