Living on the Flood Plain
"I have been a fan of Jim Zoller's poetry for over twenty-five years and have been eagerly awaiting the publication of Living on the Flood Plain. Whether Zoller's poems focus on nature, particularly the river, or on his family life, they are always life affirming, though not naively so. Zoller realizes that we must have hope while living in an 'age easily bored, hungry to laugh but seldom happy,' but he also understands that life is messy. People get divorced and die just as a river brings both life and destruction."
Peter Johnson, author of Miracles & Mortifications and winner of the 2001 James Laughlin Award
"In these deeply elemental poems, Jim Zoller finds in the clay and silt of the Genesee River the strata of the human heart. Alongside the current of his patient voice, we compost our 'darkening stories' so that we might grow into the light. This collection begins on the flood plain and finally emerges—dripping, gritty and worshipful—on the near edge of higher ground."
Paul J. Willis, author of Bright Shoots of Everlastiness and winner of a 2005 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (essays category)
"In this carefully structured collection, Zoller presents several tightly woven sequences of interlocking poems. Many of these pieces are attuned to the turning of seasons—the river's rise and fall, freeze and thaw. Such closely observed depictions of nature reflect the poet's spiritual sensibilities in a way that seems reminiscent of Thoreau. While often introspective, they move seamlessly between the personal and the universal: reading the landscape for traces of the past, what could be simply erased if the river should rise, reckoning what is at stake with the loss of a parent, spouse, or child. The landscape he finds harbors memories that remind us of our deepest bonds to one another—'remind us just who we are'—and the emotions that ultimately mean most. We reenter our lives at moments overwhelmed by what we have learned to recognize as mercy: 'how/ God so casually and deliberately, with such prodigious and exacting care,/ graces the homely, the feeble, the disrepaired.' These meditations on landscape and loss ultimately offer a form of redemption as 'All become[s] testimony . . . [to] our letting go.'"
Christian Knoeller, author of Completing the Circle and winner of the 2007 Midwestern Heritage Prize
"In these poems Jim Zoller brings us close to the land, close to the turn of the seasons, and, yes, to dark days of storm. But the words seek not flash and filigree, but come measured and intelligent, bringing us into the presence of a knowing observer. The voice is patient and considering—the wise voice of father and husband and teacher. These poems do what all good poems should do—take us to a place on earth and make it live, make it matter."
Mark Defoe, author of The Rock and the Pebble