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pulsates like jazz and celebrates life


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5.0 out of 5 stars

Haunted by the likes of Proust, Crane, Whitman, Shihab Nye, Keats and Shakespeare
By Helene Cardona on December 24, 2015

Rustin Larson’s exquisitely crafted new collection The Philosopher Savant mixes the ordinary, real world with surreal, fantastical visions. “I arrive at a mansion / Surrounded by fallen branches/ And ice. / Inside are chairs / That resemble lions / Or laws / Or the boredom of kings.” He reminds us of the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges: “A piano, / With its keys locked under its cover, / Is some giant creature / At the bottom of the sea, /Waiting.” Like a painter saturating the colors of Earth, exalting its geography from delirious beauty to war nightmares, Larson takes the reader on a dreamlike journey, filled with flashbacks, family memories, and ghosts.

The Philosopher Savant is a moving and powerful tribute to the past, bittersweet, funny, and heartbreaking. Themes of absence, loss and abandonment are set against a backdrop of fire and ice, in a landscape whose gardens, blooming with geraniums, lilies, marigolds, lilac, roses, orchids, honeysuckle and thistle, in “gangrened earth,” are reminiscent of Richard Matheson’s novel and Vincent Ward’s movie What Dreams May Come. “These hands / Pick the fire flowers, darkness in part, / Sun in the other. Close the cabinet, / Cover my earth. Shovel on the rich heart,/ Crown star, traveler’s joy, blazing vetch.” Melancholic, unflinching and unexpected, The Philosopher Savant, haunted by the likes of Proust, Crane, Whitman, Shihab Nye, Keats and Shakespeare, upon whose shoulders Larson rests, pulsates like jazz and celebrates life.

–Hélène Cardona, Award-winning author of Dreaming My Animal Selves


The Philosopher Savant

North of Oxford



Review by Stephen Page


In the first poem of the book the narrator, as a young boy, skips church and wanders the countryside, discovering new truths, learning he is able to think for himself, coming to his own conclusions about himself and the world, and finding out he is not bound by non-secular dogma. This is where the Philosopher Savant comes into being.

The book follows the remembrances, dreams, fears, evaluation, assessments, and vision of the Philosopher Savant. He is an average person, a father, a householder with a job—but he has a vagrant soul and the fugue vision of a shaman.

Larson writes in the veins of Whitman and Shakespeare. Some of his poems read as contemporized sonnets, and they have as much genius entwined as Shakespeare’s.  While reading the poems, I had a feeling of transcending my self, a oneness with the “all”. The thesis of…

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