THE PHILOSOPHER SAVANT CROSSES THE RIVERIn “The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River,” Rustin Larson now winds his words several notches closer to a phantom sense of the certainties we once thought we could assume — the way life promised a few solid things, perhaps “the purpose of life,” which now seems sold door to door as “an abrupt change,” if anything.  Words in their ordinary sense have been released from those customary connections, and often seem spoken from a place of floating far below meaning’s surface, as if a sedimentia abounding in the reasoning of tea leaves or some other structure of correspondence beyond our normal grasp were sending messages to the surface of the page.  And yet we are inclined to wholly accept their truths, given who the sayer is.  Even adrift on this raft of free-floating words, the voice, the tone, the presence of Rustin Larson is moored in every line — the dark humor, the human suffering and human song, the impingement of childhood memories, the direct gaze at the sane absurdity of the world, have only gained ground.  “Philip Glass articulates / our brains in music,” he says, and with a craft of impeccable syntax that holds onto the same roots as Bishop’s or Larkin’s, he, too, articulates those deeply patterned structures that give us hope and keep us here, reading on.

— Audrey Bohanan

I wish you the best, Rustin.  Again, congratulations on yet another finest-kind book!


New from Conestoga Zen Press

product_thumbnail Memoir poetry of the 20th and 21st Centuries. “Like Odysseus, Larson has been trying to find his way home, or at least to redefine that home. Larson’s vehicle for his journey is the process of writing itself, which he has dedicated himself to and which he knows can be both circuitous and serendipitous. But the writer who pursues his craft, like Odysseus who pursues the journey home, must have patience. . . the poet and his journey are one.” —Stephen Schneider, Pirene’s Fountain

[Click to Purchase]

And many, many thanks for the surprise of “Library Rain.”  I jumped right into it, and it’s not just that you can unfailingly find a poem in anything you come across and commit to it, but that every one of them is a hit out of the park.  I have to admit that I had to turn to “Man Arrested…” immediately, just running down the contents, and what a ride!…but then I started at the beginning and read as you intended, and all fall together in a piece, and there you are.  An aesthetic that keeps right apace with every quirky subject.

–Audrey Bohanan, author of Any Keep or Contour, finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize

“Dear Rustin, What a nice surprise to find your new book in the mail yesterday! Great work! So far ‘Relativity Cube’ is my favorite—so familiar to my heart. Thanks for all you’ve done for the world of poetry in Iowa and beyond.”

–Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa

“I’m loving reading Library Rain! Each poem leads me to different worlds–personal stories of your day to day or your past, but also musings on philosophy and realities beyond. In hours lost in reading, I go on journeys with your mind as my companion. I am moved, I chuckle and am charmed. And upon my return, everything seems more alive and whimsical to me.”

–Nynke Passi, author of Oom Ealse and the Swan, finalist in the 2014 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize of The Missouri Review.


Two Poems from Rustin Larson

North of Oxford

It was confusing.  It’s
like getting on the wrong
bus and arriving at the
wrong school.  It will take
a morning of frantic phone
calls for your mom to find
you.  And then you still
might get a slap.
Well, it’s October now and I
still don’t care about baseball.
I feel maybe someone will give
me cartoonist trouble, holding
my life together with aspirin
and duct tape.  The fish
of words will swim through all
the paper.  Thanksgiving
is exactly the same up there,
except in October, and they
are still loyal to the Queen.
It’s like getting on the wrong
bus and arriving at the wrong
Now, I have a handful of
believers.  The globe shakes
its oceans off onto the table,
and it is a wonder we
construct mail boxes out of
milk cartons; we send each
other Halloween greetings…

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From the Poetry Editor

North of Oxford

Diane March        From North of Oxford, this windy March issue blows us in two directions: backward into childhood, i.e., the past and upward into a distorted heavenly sky.

Rustin Larson’s poem, “Slap” conjures up Stanley Kunitz’s slapped check in “The Portrait,” but Larson’s metaphor literally moves us into confusion with his opening lines: “It was confusing. It’s / like getting on the wrong / bus and arriving at / the wrong school.” It’s as if childhood were a treacherous journey for the speaker, which leads the reader to his second poem, “Bats and Spiders,” where the end lines of his first stanza are “Your / mother would never have / aborted you’ says my aunt. / Things like that get me / thinking.” There is a mastery and magical craft to this poem that you will want to read and re-read, complete with…”The witch’s hand / felt in her shaggy…

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