Tag Archives: Thomas Davis

Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award Goes to In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams!

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In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams has just been awarded the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award for 2019.  The award has been around since 1944 and is awarded by the Wisconsin Council of Writers.  There have been a handful of years where the Council did not believe an award was warranted.

My publisher, All Things That Matter Press, suggested that I ask my friends and followers to repost this news.  I am certainly excited about having this kind of validation for my writing and particularly for this novel.  Bennison Books published The Weirding Storm, my epic poem about dragons, kickstarting a writing career that I had largely put aside due to my work with the tribal colleges and universities.  I feel a great debt of gratitude to both Bennison Books and All Things That Matter Press for publishing my books.  At this point in time I have four novels, one non-fiction book, and two epic poems in print.

In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams is about a black fisher community that settled in the remote wilderness off the coast of the Door Peninsula on Washington Island in the 1850s.  Primarily about Joshua Simpson, who is fourteen years old at the start of the novel, it tells the story of an escape from slavery on a Missouri plantation and then the founding of a community on the shores of Death’s Door, a passage between the body of Lake Michigan and the tip of the Door Peninsula.

Under the leadership of the charismatic black Preacher, Tom Bennett, and the help of the Underground Railroad, Joshua, his family, and the other escaped slaves find their dream of New Jerusalem on the island, and then find that discovering paradise is only the first part of their journey.

This, for me, is a great, great day, and I certainly want to thank the Wisconsin Council of Writers.  They have made my year!

 

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Ekphrasis Poetry

Ethel and I participated in a Write On Door County Art Speak’s event at the Kress Center in Egg Harbor earlier this week.  Francha Barnard led the group, and we produced two poems after looking at the art on display on loan to the Kress from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

Snow Goose

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

An ekphrasis poem from Kendra Bulgrin’s painting:
“All In A Dream”

She was startled
out of sleep
by a sound
and ran in bed clothes
to the water’s edge.

There, along a blackened beach,
a snow goose lay dying.
She knelt down
near it’s limp body,
cradling it with her torso’s warmth
all through the night.

In the morning
she woke from the dream—
the snow goose gone,
but its softness
lingering long across
the front of her chest,
its message seared
in her mind.

When An Artist Drew an Owl’s Portrait

by Thomas Davis

A response after seeing Rebecca Job’s painting, “Glow” —
This started as an ekphrasis poem, but, as with most poetry, carved its own path during the writing process, metamorphosing into a poem about a pastel, “Barn Owl,” I saw Ethel Mortenson Davis draw.

A full moon, bone white as fine china, shines
through young white pine needles branching into night —

but she isn’t aware of the night’s moon, or its darkness.
A box of multi-colored pastels, half used down to the nubbings:
and she leans over the hand-crafted dining room table,
big light overhead,
staring at black paper,
eyes where her spirit is.

Inside her stillness you can feel the predator’s feralness,
alertness tense with consecrated concentration,

and then, as if her prey is shocked,
fate suspended in time,
her hands blur, her whole body moving,
as lines slash into blackness
and smear color, movement
into an owl plunging claws silently
toward an unseen mouse.

In less than a thousand heartbeats,
as the round moon shines,
the barn owl is frozen into black paper,
wings flared, large eyes swimming
with claws, silence, wings, death,

LIFE.

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In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams Book Signing

I did a book presentation and signing at Novel Bay Booksellers in Sturgeon Bay today from 2 to 4 p.m. A crowd showed up and a bunch of that novel and other books that I have written sold. Ethel came and took a couple of photographs. Thanks go to John Maggitti and Liz Welter for sponsoring a great event!

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Peninsula Pulse’s Review of In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams

A great review of “In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams”  has been published in “The Peninsula Pulse,” a publication that distributes about 9,000 copies in the winter. The summer circulation is more like 16,000. It is by far the best local coverage publication I know about, and I appreciate this review by Alissa Ehmke.

My daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, posted this on their Facebook pages, alerting me to this.

 

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Review in Wisconsin People and Ideas

My review of Thomas Peacock’s first novel, Beginnings: The Homeward Journey of Donovan Manypenny, is in the latest issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas.  Peacock is one of the most important writers and thinkers about American Indian education in the country, and his wonderful novel, published by Holy Cow! Press (one of my favorite publishers), has “the resonance of truth telling” in its pages.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the deepness of native culture and how that deepness draws people into and back to the place where the universe began.

I am also pleased to be published in Wisconsin People & Ideas, the most important publication containing the best of Wisconsin culture and thought in the state.  The publication of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters explores Wisconsin’s intellectual and natural environment with a substance that helps define the state’s true spirit.

My daughter, Sonja Bingen, tried to get the Academy to name me a Fellow, but that didn’t happen, so this publication made me especially feel good.  The magazine and the Academy is one of the best things about Wisconsin.

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Four Windows Press re-Releases Salt Bear

I wrote a novel for young adults, 9-14 and up, a long time ago. It was completely sold out, so Four Windows Press is re-releasing it. I am hoping some of the followers of this blog might consider purchasing it in amazon or at their favorite local bookstore.

Salt Bear is a story taken from the mythology of the American west. It is filled with mythological animals such as salt bear, jackalopes, cactus bucks, blind ravens, a snow owl, bears, and an evil mountain lion. At a recent WFOP meeting I was informed by a young attendee that it was one of his very favorite books ever. I’ve had quite a few young people tell me that since its first release.

The wild tale begins:

Salt Bear did not like the idea. Not one little bit.
Buddy, a jackalope, one of Salt Bear’s best friends, had started calling him George.
“Salt Bear’s a kind of bear,” Buddy had explained when he first started using George. “It’s not a name.”
“But why George?” Salt Bear had asked. “That doesn’t fit a salt bear. Why not Salty?” He brightened up. “That could be a good name for a salt bear.”
Buddy had scratched behind his right pronghorn just above his big, floppy ear. He looked like a jackrabbit. His brownish-pink nose was set off by a handsome set of whiskers, and he had powerful hind legs. Two slender black horns stuck out of his head above his ears.
“Salty’s a name for a bird,” he had said scornfully. “Besides, I would have liked to have been called George. Not Buddy.”
Salt Bear had shaken his gleaming white fur, and then blinked tan eyes in bewilderment. For a bear he was small, although he was full grown. He stood a little over three feet high. . .

I’m pretty sure you might remember the excitement you had reading The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, or the Redwall books. I certainly had an enormous amount of fun writing the tale down.

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Beside the Cottonwood

a villanelle by Thomas Davis

“Beside the cottonwood,” I start to say.
She looks at me. Words fade out of my head.
What now? I think. I focus on the way

She’s standing by the massive tree, the gray
Streaked through her hair a halo that has wed
Her essence to the glinting interplay

Of light and shadow dancing leaves that sway
And flutter in a breeze that seems to tread
Out from the tree into the fields of day.

The sudden silence morphs into dismay,
Confusion, even, maybe, just a hint of dread.
What if, inside a moment, disarray

Has somehow found our lives and cutaway
The passion in our hearts that’s always led
To moments that are glorious and fey.

But then she smiles. The tree’s roots dig through clay
And living sustenance flows to the spread
Of branches reaching to the sky, the play
Of light her spirit as my spirit’s quay.

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OtherWorld’s Bookstore Display

A new bookstore has opened on Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay! We used to have two bookstores, but they have closed. Now Margaret Magle has opened a new bookstore on Third Avenue downtown. She is, right now, featuring books by Ethel Mortenson and Thomas Davis. We are hoping both tourists and local folks visit the store at 41 N. Third Avenue since we are hoping Margaret succeeds in her new endeavor.

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Bennison Books Announces Publication of Indra’s Net

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Bennison Books, the publisher of my new book, The Weirding Storm, A Dragon Epic, has just released a new international anthology of poetry called Indra’s Net. Ethel is honored to have three poems in this important anthology. I was fortunate enough to have two poems accepted.

Carol Rumens, the Poetry Editor for The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s most important newspapers, wrote in the forward that:

The title of this anthology, Indra’s Net, was suggested by one of its poets, the late Cynthia Jobin. She explained: “Indra’s net is a metaphor for universal interconnectedness. It’s as old as ancient Sanskrit and as ‘today’ as speculative scientific cosmology. It’s what came to mind when thinking about nets and webs and interconnectedness … and jewels and poems.”

All proceeds from the anthology’s sale will be donated to the Book Bus, a “charity [that] aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.”

I hope some of those who read this blog and Ethel’s and my Facebook postings will purchase what is a worthy project well worth everyone’s support.

To get more information on Indra’s Net to go to: https://bennisonbooks.com/2017/07/13/indras-net-all-profits-to-the-book-bus-charity.

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The Weirding Storm is Published!

The Weirding Storm, A Dragon Epic has been published by Bennison Books. It is now available at amazon.com.

The U.S. Amazon address is:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/099900770X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495812510&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Weirding+Storm

The address for Bennison Books, a UK publisher, is:  https://bennisonbooks.com.

I am hoping that anyone who purchases the book from Amazon, either U.S. or U.K. Amazon, will also review the book.  That helps publicize it in the amazon universe.

I am really excited about this publication.  Bennison Books publishes some of my favorite poets and to be part of their stable with one of the best books I have ever written gives me an euphoric feeling.  I hope some of you will be willing to be transported to another world where dragons and humans still co-exist along with witches, warriors, and battles, to paraphrase Terence Winch, one of the U.S.’s greatest poets.

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