A Paen to Nature:
A Review of Howard Pugh’s Poetry
by Bea Garth, March 2013
Note: poet Howard Pugh and Beat original Al Hinkle was featured at the March 28th, 2013 literary event “Exploring the Beat Spirit” at the Camden Community Center–as well as new and veteran poets and fiction writers at the Open Mic! The Camden Community Center is at 3369 Union Ave., San Jose, CA 95124 (room 5).
Poet and photographer Howard Pugh has been creating a poetic world filled with richly playful while at the same time unabashedly merciless imagery featuring Modern Man and Woman’s psychological and spiritual struggle between Nature and Modern Life. Our sensual nature can lead us into (for instance) Classical Nature worship — but can it sustain it in the light of our often childlike and alternately hard competitive selfishness? Mr. Pugh at the same time explores our inherent need to reinvent ourselves and embrace the world (and each other) and thus rise above such petty difficulties. In the lovely poem “Credible Journey” Howard Pugh describes this very struggle:
“How our self-consciousness
learned to inflate mere air
intolerate claims of intimacy,
pen up whole menageries:
giant birds-of-paradise, brooding,
flexing muscle against bone and cage,
unaware they’re built only from balloon.“
In Howard Pugh’s “Octet” no. 1, “To the Apocalypse” (published in the late December 2012 edition of Eos: The Creative Context) he takes us to the next level:
“But here along the soft banks of the western river,
here, at the end of the world, we build
and design and laugh and make love,
designate new gods:
…..a god of bathing
…..a god for dreams.
But we are all like small gods now,
each of us explorers and makers,
mapping out wondrous strands
of the hallucinogenic unknown.
Our camp name is rekindled desire,
the river is history anew – daring us all
to take hold of vast nets across its maw,
feel the pride and pleasure tug as
we belong to one another once again.”
Howard Pugh’s poetry takes his audience to places many of us may have forgotten–where the unabashed spirit lives in its constant quest for inner truth while running up against the hard facts of Reality. He has taken on a noble quest–one which we may all benefit by following. Certainly he manages to surprise us in this journey with all its twists and turns: alternately exciting, sardonic and uplifting — displaying both the classical beauty of Nature as well as the grit of Modern Existence.
It is my hope viewers of this page will be inspired to read more of Mr. Pugh’s poetry both in this edition as well as the one from December 2012.
I also welcome you to come to the literary event March 28th at the Camden Community Center (listed above) to hear Howard Pugh read from the pages of his poetic quest. My feeling is that you will not leave without feeling greatly enlivened. What better thing to do at the beginning of Spring? And especially in the context of “Exploring the Beat Spirit” in a true contemporary sense–which really is what it is all about.