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By Gary V. PowellPublisher: Finishing Line PressISBN: 979-8-88838-237-0Genre: PoetryPrice: 15.99
Available from: Finishing Line Press

Gary V. Powell’s Permafrost is a sensual meditation on aging, parenting, romantic love, and the passage of time. From the lawn’s first cut in spring to its final cut in fall, the poet urges readers to take nothing for granted. His observations are made even more poignant by poems about a son who has chosen a high-risk combat role in the military.

Gary V. Powell’s short fiction has been nominated for Pushcart and O’Henry prizes, A 2023 deGroot Foundation Writer of Note and winner of the 2022 Press 53/Prime Number Fiction Prize, his work can be read in many literary magazines and anthologies. In addition, his chapbook, Super Blood Wolf Moon, won Kallisto Gaia Press’s 2020 Contemporary Poetry Prize. More recently, his poetry appears or is forthcoming in Kakalak 2022 (Moonshine Review Press) and Southword 44.


Gary Powell‘s Permafrost is a wise observation of the natural world grounded in story and humor. It’s a comment on the Earth in peril, but also on a human evolution of obligation, service, passion, and parenting as life tumbles on. In “Screen Porch” he remembers “I once was those boys, / happy and green and famous . . . barefoot destroyer of spiders’ webs / laced like doilies across our dew-wet lawn.” In “Final Cut” Powell urges there is “so much to be done as days narrow / to slivers chipped from onyx stone / and nights widen into dark rivers.” Permafrost is a father’s slow handing-over of time, artifact, and love — to son and daughter — and a question of what we humans leave behind.

Alana Dagenthart is a poet, artist, and teacher. She is the author of the poetry collection, Yellow Leaves, Red Hawk Press, 2022.

Gary Powell’s Permafrost is a sensory feast seasoned by an intense awareness of life’s transience. As the poet says in the title poem, life is accompanied by the “drip drip drip of time’s passing.” Awareness of life’s fragility is enhanced by a son’s choice of a high-risk military career. The father both laments and recognizes his sons fearlessness—“when I call his name, he hears only wind.” And while Keats offers up a love feast of plants and flowers, Powell gives us the essence of love while preparing tacos. In his powerful love poem, the poet “sear[s] the meat like hearts seared by the passage of time.” A book which slices through life like a razor’s vertical plane, Permafrost is a powerful study of death’s shadow awash in the intensity of life’s lush moments.

Joyce Compton Brown is a former professor at Gardner-Webb University, a Pushcart nominee, and the author of the chapbooks Bequest (Finishing Line Press), Singing with Jarred Edges (Main Street Rag), and Standing on the Outcrop (RedhawkPublications).

One of life’s foremost non-carnal delights is to observe an artist as their work matures. I’ve been a fan of Gary Powell since his short fiction collection, Beyond Redemption, became one of the few books I read more than once. His new chapbook of narrative poems, Permafrost, centers on the connections we find to be the most valuable and rewarding after the detritus of youthful indignation falls away. It’s not that Powell has necessarily mellowed but his heat has redirected from wildfire to laser. This leanness has allowed him to find subtlety and romance where power and lust once dominated. That’s not to say power and lust have vanished. There’s plenty of both in this collection to colorize the landscape. What you will find in this collection is an awareness of mortality and the importance of those seasoned connections that build a structured life. Permafrost is an introspective yet revealing homage to relationships both intimate and encompassing.

Tony Burnett, author Watermelon Tattoo (Water Tower Press 2023), Executive Director Kallisto Gaia Press