West, Poems of a Place is a book which describes and revels in the changes in the author's life when he and his wife moved out of San Antonio, into a country place in the small town of Lytle, Texas. Dedicated to the fine Texas poet, Robert Burlingame, West's focus on the dayliness of the natural world and the wonder of it to new eyes, is a celebration in keeping with Burlingame’s voice and vision. This book is rich in names—places, plants, animals—and has a celebratory tone that is infectious.
About the Author
Jim LaVilla-Havelin is a poet, educator, and arts administrator. He is author of four books of poems – Rites of Passage (Charon Press 1968), What the Diamond Does Is Hold It All In (White Pine Press 1978), Simon’s Masterpiece (White Pine Press 1983), and most recently, Counting (Pecan Grove Press, 2010). LaVilla-Havelin’s poems have appeared in the Texas Observer and other journals; in the anthologies Is This Forever, Or What? and Between Heaven & Texas; and in the Texas Poetry Calendar (and in Big Land, Big Sky Big Hair, the Dos Gatos Press’ anthology from the Texas Poetry Calendar).
"Reading Jim LaVilla-Havelin’s vibrant collection West, we are led to realize that love is an act of attention. Jim doesn’t just look, he sees, and sees it all: the easily overlooked mystery and beauty of egret and cow, the startling imposition of trash bags and gunshots. In poems composed with the dexterity of a choreographer, we feel we are dancing on the ambiguity of time, recognizing its potential for quickening our awareness of the co-existence of the immediate and the disappearing. When we close the collection, we are ever grateful for where we have been and where we are now." —Jack Ridl, author, Practicing to Walk Like a Heron, recipient of the Gold Medal for Poetry from ForeWord Reviews, and Broken Symmetry
"One dried leaf calls up Proust and the death of a neighbor unloading hay. Caracaras stretch a snake into rope. Durer and Lupe’s tractor appear on the same hard-pan morning. LaVilla-Havelin gives us poems of patience, empathy and boundless love sprung from the harsh beauty of Atascosa County, Texas. A wildly enriching gift to readers." —Rosemary Catacalos, Texas Poet Laureate, 2013, author, Again for the First Time
"West is a quiet collection of observant meditations spread across wide pages. Jim LaVilla-Havelin and his artist wife Lucia live on acreage outside of Lytle, south of San Antonio. Well-acquainted with urban areas...they are not 'new' to the country after a dozen years. This accounts for LaVilla-Havelin’s precise recognition of wildlife and seasonal changes — especially drought conditions — throughout the poems. Placed like cows in a field, the words find their rhythm in spacing, a musical timing calling to open meadows dotted with cows and white egrets that 'open rooms in the flat blue// tilting startling white in the sun/they create/distance//a blue box of air they’re crossing' ('When') . . . . LaVilla-Havelin approaches the place with humility and quietness. He makes us witness it as he does." —Robert Bonazzi, San Antonio Express-News
"'Best Books of 2017' Jim LaVilla-Havelin lives on acreage outside the town of Lytle, south of San Antonio. Well acquainted with urban areas, he is not 'new' to the country after a dozen years. This accounts for LaVilla-Havelin’s precise recognition of wildlife and seasonal changes—especially drought conditions—throughout the poems in West. LaVilla-Havelin, retired director of the Young Artists Programs at the Southwest School of Art for two decades, approaches the place with humility and quietness. He makes us witness it as he does." —Steve Bennett, San Antonio Express-News