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By Cold Water

Chris Dombrowski

Award Winner


Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: April 2009
ISBN: 9780814334225
Pages: 72 Size: 6.5 x 8
Published: April 2009
ISBN: 9780814335345
Pages: 72 Size: EPUB

Language enfolding around language, punctuation cast aside, and the watering mouth of our ear and tongue wagging after such beauty: this is the poetic terrain of a young poet whose work holds so much promise (and so much of it already fulfilled in this wonderful book).

— Green Mountains Review

New from renowned Michigan-born poet Chris Dombrowski, By Cold Water is a well-crafted and confident collection of poems that journeys into a complex natural world that is both beautiful and threatened. In a measured and contemplative voice, these poems engage in an earthy and eloquent exploration of the landscape—including the lakes, rivers, moonlight, breezes, and birdsong—of Dombrowski’s native Michigan and his current home of Montana. Always maintaining a sense of wonder at the world around him, Dombrowski uses these natural inspirations to produce a stunning range of meditations on modern life.

Whether carefully observing the present moment or trying to make meaning out of the past, Dombrowski’s lines showcase the struggle of giving oneself completely over to the experience. In a similar manner, his concise, powerful lines are all-consuming and honed to an exact sharpness, bursting with tactile, aural, and visual images. Though Dombrowski’s work is rooted in nature, it is in no way limited by this focus. When he describes a star-filled sky, a sheet snapping in the breeze, or the season’s first snow, Dombrowski draws readers completely into his world, to see how he has lived, loved, and survived in this particular place. In doing so, he skillfully reveals universal themes of growth and decay, uncertainty and faith, and love and loss, amid a landscape that is always evolving and fundamentally unstable.

Dombrowski’s voice is both inviting and sophisticated, its precision reminiscent of the best poets who have drawn inspiration from the natural world. All readers of poetry will be drawn to the rich and beautiful poems in By Cold Water.

Chris Dombrowski’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Orion, and Poetry. The recipient of the Associated Writing Programs’ Intro Award, and other honors, Dombrowski has worked as a river guide, poet-in-the-schools, and teacher of creative writing at the University of Montana and at Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he served as writer-in-residence.

It's not that By Cold Water's beautiful, though it very much is, page after page. No, what the book's doing, in ways I find miraculous, is working at the root level of both the natural world around us and the wonders that our heads are full-time stuffed with....Dombrowski's work is the rarest sort.

– Weston Cutter, Corduroy Books

One of the finest first collections I've seen this year.

– Greg Rappeleye, Sonnets at 4am

As we say of a car, it has clean lines; or of an ant's eyes that they are closely engaged; the way we exclaim of an image that it bridges stars, Chris Dombrowski's poems ennoble their page."

– William Gass

These poems are visionary. There is something ancient in their owls and dusks, their cold lakes, their awareness of the unseen. Chris Dombrowski is watching with an attention so exquisite it seems, at times, that a witness is barely present-a breath of quiet. By turns Rilkean and Basho-esque, the poems guide our eyes out of their well-worn habits and let us see, as if the world were constantly charged with strangeness and the dream of beauty, draped with twilights where, in the junkyard, 'mirrors strike small skies against our bodies.'"

– Joanna Klink

By Cold Water is a wonderful book of poems. I read it several times utterly engrossed in its natural imagery, the grace in which the process of revelation tells us what we didn't know, describes what we never noticed. Dombrowski is a fine poet. I could have said that he's a fine young poet because he's only thirty-three but in truth he's a thousand years old like any fine poet."

– Jim Harrison

Dombrowski graces his poems with descriptions and observations so exquisite that the natural world appears a much more intimate place that it has for quite some time. Sentimental musing of nature in literature can only be a single layer. Dombrowski shows how building upon that layer in order to reflect how nature is as active a force as human emotion. Luckily for us, these are poems that beckon us to return."

– Missoula Independent

Dombrowski, in (this) exciting first full-length volume, seems to work from a loose, ancient, explosive formula: poem = dream = vision = song = prophecy = myth. (His) work draws on primal sources of energy and music....and suggest(s) that if anything can save the forsaken world, it may be visionary song.

– Richard Simpson, Neo

Language enfolding around language, punctuation cast aside, and the watering mouth of our ear and tongue wagging after such beauty: this is the poetic terrain of a young poet whose work holds so much promise (and so much of it already fulfilled in this wonderful book)."

– Green Mountains Review

Intimates of wasp nests and barbed wire, of mountains' minerality and the light sequestered inside a horse's mane, Chris Dombrowski's poems word the world-and their reader-into largeness, with specificity, tenderness, and passion."

– Jane Hirshfield

To stand upright and see the eye ascend: this is Dombrowski's core proposal. In By Cold Water location beautifully becomes both virtue and task of virtue. These poems are truly afoot with their vision, and I welcome them."

– Donald Revell

  • 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year - Finalist in the category of poetry