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About Art Homer


The Drownt Boy:
An Ozark Tale
Copyright © 1994
by Art Homer
U of Missouri P
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It had been many years since Art Homer had spent time in the region where he grew up as the child of subsistence farmers. In this beautifully written true tale, Homer returns to the Missouri Ozarks with his stepson, Reese, for a three-day canoe trip down the recently flooded Current River. As rain threatens to erupt again and the two prepare for their uncertain trip down the swollen river, a man in a straw hat pulls up to them on the gravel bar. "Did they find that drownt boy yet?" he calls. So begins an extraordinary trip down a dangerous river, toward unforeseen adventures and into the swirling recesses of memory.
As they float past dense, dark woods, Homer recalls the magic of nature in his childhood. Against a backdrop of rural poverty, Homer shows the richness of the land in the inner life of a child, from frosty blue-bellied lizards and doodlebugs to the timeless lure of gurgling streams. He recalls as well the people from his past a snake handler, his English grandfather, an NAACP preacher--and marvels at how time seems to have passed the Ozarks by, leaving touches of Old English in the language and leaving the lives of the people, in many ways, unchanged.
As helicopters purr above and rangers probe deep pools from motorboats, the two pursue the ghost of the drownt boy down the stream. Along the way they visit caves and springs, talk with the locals about their lives, and witness the spectacular beauty of kingfishers and great blue herons, eels and trout flashing in the sun. But they must also confront the temperament of a river threatening to burst from its banks as they maneuver through an obstacle course of downed trees, rushing rapids, and upturned roots ready to impale a swimmer.
Winding through the surging waters of an Ozark river and through a flood of memories of an Ozark childhood, The Drownt Boy is a lyrical depiction of one man's journey home.--from the jacket

Art Homer's The Drownt Boy is a complex and magical evocation of place. Its Ozarks are made of the deep stuff of boyhood memory and family life and a carefully described, present-day canoe trip down the Current River, taken at flood-stage, by Homer and his stepson. Both journeys--past and present--require an immersion in the language and lore of the place, combined with a disciplined attention to detail, as it is encountered or recollected.
This is wonderfully vivid, lively writing. The present river, the woods and cabin of Homer's childhood shimmer with bright clarity. The Ozarks have never been better served, but The Drownt Boy's central task is the conscious deciphering of the "testimony of the Ozarks"--or the testimony of any of our places--a rigorous and redemptive invention of the self and its place through language.--Michael Anania

A fine work, thick with earned insight and often quite brilliantly said. It is exactly the sort of book we need most in America these days, located securely in the human life of a particular place.--William Kittredge

...filled with lyrical, even mystical insights and asides....[Homer's] tribute to the backwoods environment of his youth, when the "depression moved into the Ozarks, liked it, and retired there after World War II, letting the rest of the country go on with the boom times," is rich in appreciation of lore and language that is still tinged with Old English, and of a people in many ways unchanged for ages.--Pubishers Weekly

This book can be savored again and again. It could be used for meditation or as a springboard for one's own journey.--West Coast Review of Books (four stars)

Homer is a stylist who fills every sentence with sensations and rich histories. The poet's training is evident in his careful creation of every phrase, and this book proves he is a master storyteller as well.--Denise Low, Kansas City Star

The Drownt Boy is a finely crafted picture of a place and time, and a man's reflections on them. Homer's style is as lean and vivid as the country he writes about. His narrative--part travel tale, part essay, part memoir of a family's life in the Ozarks a generation ago--flows like a mountain stream.--Springfield News-Leader

Looking for signs, grappling with recurring images of spirals, quicksand, downcurrents, and against the unpredictability of his father's epilepsy, [Homer] tries to anticipate any disaster the river voyage might bring, but nothing can shield him from the blindness inherent in this kind of time travel. He goes against his better judgment. He goes to bond with his stepchild. He goes to make up for his own father's falling down on the job. He goes for the experience.--The Bloomsbury Review

Reading this book, which is just thick with learning and detail, is like taking a walk through the woods of the mind. Every turn brings us to some new aspect, some view we have never seen before, or never thought of in quite that way.--Northwest Arkansas Times

The Drownt Boy, published by the University of Missouri Press, is a hybrid literary form: a mixture of memoir and adventure. Stories about growing up poor in southeast Missouri are interspersed with those about a risky, three-day canoe trip Homer and his ten 13-year-old stepson, Reese, took on the Current River in the same area....He retains his link to land and landscape and the real world of nature.--Gerald Wade, Omaha World-Herald

Homer, who teaches in the Writer's Workshop at the University of Nebraska, has written a recollection of the Missouri Ozarks using "a combination of childhood memory, history, and wishful thinking."--Library Journal

It's a lyrical evocation of a singular, outmoded way of life....Homer...writes most effectively of childhood--collecting ant lions and chicken eggs or watching his father scythe the front yard to deter snakes. The canoe trip likewise provides good material--river-rangers looking for a "drownt" child, car-campers deposited in treetops by high, violent water.--Los Angeles Book Review
Sight Is No Carpenter
Copyright © 2005
by Art Homer
WordTech Communications
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From the rural center of the Plains States, Nebraska, comes the graceful formal voice of Art Homer. Homer's poetry is an understated witness to experiences both stark and beautiful; his lines are always buiding, always making. — from the publisher

Rich in appreciation of lore and language that is still tinged with Old English, and of a people in many ways unchanged for ages. — Publishers Weekly

These poems have a somber and enduring magnificence. They are a testament to the salvational nature of all art, when that art has been fully lived and, what is rarer, fully wrought. — Jonathan Holden

Skies of Such
Valuable Glass
Copyright © 1990
by Art Homer
Owl Creek Press
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Skies of Such Valuable Glass, like Snodgrass's Heart's Needle and Hugo's The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir is the chronicle of one man's exile in the heartland of his own country-- his stoic determination, in the face of divorce, loss, estrangement, to derive, singlehandedly, some aesthetic sustenance out of his world's prevailing greys. These poems have a somber and enduring magnificence. They are a testament to the salvational nature of all art, when that art has been fully lived and, what is rarer, fully wrought. Art Homer is one of the best younger poets writing in America today.--Jonathan Holden

One after another, Art Homer's poems offer a tactile, complex, yet simply rendered world that we can believe is ours while sensing--as we sense in the presence of our best artists--that it is peculiarly his world, infused by his spirit and sensibility. I love his complicitous stance, and his voice that can be simultaneously severe and compassionate. A wonderful book!--Stephen Dunn

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