Poetry reading set for Open Book | TheUnion.com

Poetry reading set for Open Book

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Humboldt County poet David Holper will be will be reading from his newly released collection of poems “The Bridge” on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Open Book bookstore in Grass Valley. Copies of the books will be available for purchase and signing.

A widely published poet and fiction writer, Holper has taught creative writing for 30 years, helping thousands of students master the basics of fiction and poetry, as well as helping many students to successfully publish their stories, poems, and books.

A Humboldt State University alumnus who majored in English, Holper spent four years in the military following his college graduation, he told The Eureka Times-Standard.

After the Army, he spent a year in the National Guard and attended grad school at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, acquiring an MFA in English with a concentration in fiction, before moving back to the West Coast. While in grad school, he wrote a book of short stories with the expectation of establishing himself as a novelist but wound up writing poetry in light of teaching’s demands — a responsibility he would take up as a high school English instructor in Sacramento and then eventually as a college professor.

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“Because I’m more a storyteller than a poet, a lot of my poetry is narrative focused,” he said.

The contents of “The Bridge” bear this out, Times-Standard reporter Robert Peach wrote in a feature on Holper.

“Subtracting the Darkness” details Holper’s attempt, alongside a Green Beret Army friend, to trek the Moby Grape route and scale a “pretty sheer” 1,000-foot mountain face on the Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire nicknamed “the Old Man of the Mountain,” which has since collapsed. As Holper and his friend climbed two-thirds of the way up, it began to mist. The mist turned to rain and a storm of lightning and thunder ensued. Fortunately nothing disastrous happened, but Holper said neither he nor his friend could believe they survived.

“(We had) gone to the edge of foolishness by not checking the weather,” he said.

In “Seven Rides to Remember,” the poet invites the reader to follow him and a friend of his on a series of hitchhiking exploits across the country. “Objective Correlative” sets up “what it felt like” to pass through all three of the checkpoints out of West Germany into East Germany while the Berlin Wall was still up. Holper described it as a “very silent, intense environment” involving towers and guards and “a really weird kind of lunar landscape.” In a similar vein, he describes the “matter of fact” reporting of an Auschwitz tour guide at the remains of crematoria in Auschwitz’s Birkenau camp, where he and his wife left the guide to explore the territory on their own time and terms. The poem is aptly titled, “Ditch the Tour.”

Holper’s intention for his poetry is that it ends up “in as many hands as possible.” He described one instance where a friend read poems from his first book of published verse, “64 Questions,” to her dying mother. It was one of the “highest compliments” he has received about his work.

“So I don’t care who reads it,” he said, noting that his poems are accessible and hopefully provocative and humorous for his audience. “I just want a wide variety of people to read (them) and see what they get out of them.”

The Open Book is located at 671 Maltman Drive, Grass Valley. For more information, see http://www.davidholper.com.

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