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Lying in the River's Dark Bed

The Confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler

Michael Delp

Award Winner


Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: April 2016
ISBN: 9780814341988
Pages: 240 Size: 6 x 9
Published: April 2016
ISBN: 9780814341995
Pages: 240 Size: EPUB

Lying in the River's Dark Bed: The Confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler by Michael Delp is a collection of fifty-six poems that brings together two characters Delp has been perfecting for years: Deadman and the Mad Angler. The Deadman, a spirit that constantly shifts, is one part troublemaker, one part truth-teller, and one part demon who demands respect. The Mad Angler, on the other hand, could be called the Mad Shaman or Mad Activist, as he speaks of the water and nature and then of the greed of man. While these two personas are distinct in the collection (highlighted beautifully in the unique double-sided book design) they also come together at times in perfect harmony.

The Deadman and the Mad Angler are walking contradictions—twin sons of different mothers. The Deadman is a trickster figure, a hive of contradictions. He can be killed but cannot die. He is supremely intelligent, yet is as dumb as a stone. He is an enigma to himself and to all others, yet he understands the origins and the meanings of the inner lives of all things. He is impossible to understand, yet somehow through his musings enlightenment occurs. His poems inspire contentedness, even though they might frighten you first in order to do so. The Mad Angler is more finely tuned, focused primarily on the environment. He exercises more restraint and resistance than his scattered brother, focusing on nature and on what is flowing in the water around him and inside of him. His voice is sure and firm on all things water related because he is as much river as person. The collection embraces these voices as separate and unique identities, while highlighting a center section called "Confluence," the place where these two come together to meditate on some of the most profound emotions evoked by the contemporary world.

Lying in the River's Dark Bed reflects the compatibilities and contradictions of the natural world. These ritualized poems are both funny and thought provoking and an example of persona writing at its best. Those interested in conversational poetry and environmental writing will be enthralled with this stirring yet soothing collection.

Michael Delp recently retired from the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he was the director of creative writing for many years. He is the author of numerous collections of prose and poetry, with his most recent collection of short stories being As If We Were Prey (Wayne State University Press, 2010). He is also the mentor and advisor to the Front Street Writers Program in Traverse City, which operates under the auspices of the National Writers Series. He lives in Interlochen with his wife, Claudia, and splits his time between there and Reeling Waters, his cabin on the Boardman River.

John Berryman and Patti Smith had a son, and his name was Mike Delp’s poems. This book is a mysterious amplifier with ‘11’ on the dial. Delp’s Mad Angler poems want to make you sane; and the Deadman of these poems wants you to live. Read these two sections in a rush, one after another, as I did, and you make your own river in the air around the living room, or campfire. They become a prayer. You can see a god waking very suddenly in the corner, wide-eyed, just the whites of the eyes, having been asleep for years— looking around, looking around.

– Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author

As the hip kids would say, Deadman kills it. One of the most memorable personas in contemporary Michigan literature (sorry to use the ‘L’ word, Deadman), Delp’s trickster is at once feral and dumber than we are smart, challenging our antiquated views of how art should behave. One must harken back to the little-known but seminal Chilean poet Nicanor Parra to find a writer so deft at creating ‘anti-poems’ that both move the reader and revivify the poetic. Immerse yourself, reader, in this river’s dark bed, then surface gasping—and more alive.

– Chris Dombrowski, author of Earth Again (Wayne State University Press, 2013)

The poems in Mike Delp’s stunning new collection must have emerged from that crack in the world between sleeping and waking. They’re as raw and bloody as newborn myths, and they’re howling to be heard. Listen to them. Drink them. Eat them. Then throw away your old life and start over. Delp says, ‘Here, read this, it will kill you.’ It will, it did.

– Jerry Dennis, author of A Daybreak Handbook and The Windward Shore

Michael Delp is our state’s poetic Intimidator/Enchanter. He intimidates with unexpected images, ‘Upon the ridge, coyotes lick the backs of shadows.’ And enchants with, ‘Find the truth written on the skins of brook trout.’ Deadman meets Mad Angler: Only Delp, only Delp. More, anon.

– Joseph Heywood, author of The Snowfly

Expect fun, passionate, provocative prose by one of Northern Michigan’s most beloved writers. Perfect cottage porch read.

– Jeff Smith, MyNorth.com

In the first of David’s Psalms, the righteous man is likened to ‘a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.’ Michael Delp is such a man, and these poems are the fruits of his lifelong, steadfast, deeply rooted devotion to the holy waters that nourish his wild heart: ‘O taste and see…

– Nick Bozanic, author of Lost River Fugue

In Delp’s capable hands, his characters drift or float in the confluence between myth and dream, where waters
soothe and connect. These connections take place close to home, providing even more compelling reasons to wade

– Glen Young, Petoskey News Review

This is a humorous, provocative collection of persona writing and conversational poetry that may appeal to those who enjoy the surreal.

– Aaron Robertson, Metro Times -- 2016 Summer Reading List

The layout of this book, with its multiple access points, is fascinating. [. . .] The book’s recursive form is meant to mimic that transitional delta space where rivers pour into larger bodies. This formal invention makes Delp’s collection completely unique, and kudos to the editors at Wayne State University Press for allowing him such an unconventional layout.

– John Freeman, Michigan Public Radio

  • 2016 Foreword INDIES Book Award - Result: 2016 Honorable Mention for Poetry
  • 2017 AUPresses Book, Jacket & Journal Show Award - Result: Winner