Russ Peery, 89, brings fresh perspectives on nature, life, aging
Author announces release of his latest book ‘Encore: A Collection of Poems’
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - It is not every day that one has access to the thoughts of a gifted 89-year-old poet. Russ Peery’s “Encore” available in large print paperback in August 2016, offers just such an opportunity. In his own words, this “striving ancient being” finds wonder in “dailyness” and meaning in aging. “In these latter years of mine / I milk the sky and earth for poems– / I milk my memories– / I milk my thoughts.”
A former pastor and woodworker, Peery came relatively late to poetry. At the age of 73, he was persuaded by his ailing mother to write seriously, and his wife of 40 years encourages him on a daily basis to keep at it. Peery’s latest collection of 180 poems – spanning such universal subjects as nature, relationships, love, inspiration, memories, aging, end-of-life reflections – is a rare treasure, laying bare in gratifying cadence truths of the human condition and human experience, with the wisdom gathered from nearly nine decades. “Encore” is illustrated with striking photographs taken by Peery’s friend and editor, Joanne Schwandes. In the photos, readers actually see many of the vistas and images that inspire Peery and that he paints so vividly with words.
Peery’s poems are accessible and varied. A number of poems have a timeless quality: “Down by the sea that I see no more– / the sea close to me in my days of yore / are waters still lapping a now distant shore…” Others describe touching encounters with grandchildren and people he knows. Some poems catch the reader off guard with their candor, amuse with their contemporary references (iPhones), and make one laugh out loud with unexpected metaphors. On the whole though, the poems are powerful, keenly incisive and a testament to the “unconquerable soul” (as in Henley’s Invictus). The section entitled “Harvesting a Memory” is especially poignant, covering loss, nostalgia, disappointment, gratitude and triumph. One excerpt that captures the general tone of the book comes from the poem “A Tool We’ve Been Given” on p. 123: “My mind often covets those memories / spawned when this century was new … / But rather than cry at the losses / we do best by recalling and smiling / for that is the tool we’ve been given / that offers us great consolation / when our accumulated years / deny us the blessings / once almost taken for granted.”
This book at its core pays homage to aging, with humor, insightful perspective and dignity. It will resonate with anyone who is or loves a senior citizen of any age. The poems are particularly well-suited for reading aloud and may easily be used as a springboard for reflection, discussion and reminiscing.