A captivating, vicarious ride through this whole other world...
Q & A with Deborah Kalb
Q: In an article on ptleader.com, Jenny Westdal writes, “Although Finn Wilcox has traveled, his writings are rooted in place. That place is the Pacific Northwest. This is the Northwest where work is found in the woods, and life is hard, simple and engulfed in beauty. This place runs deep, down to the core of a person’s identity.” What do you think of that assessment?
A: I’d say that assessment is spot on. The Pacific Northwest has always been the baseline of what I am. Aside from a couple years in Utah and short stints in other western states, the Northwest is where I’ve lived all my life.
Mentors and heroes, artists and poets that I have the highest regard for, all spring from here. To my way of thinking, no other artists compare to Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson, Philip McCracken, Kenneth Callahan and all the other great lions of the early Northwest art scene. Same holds true for poets I admire most: Robert Sund, Tim McNulty, Mike O’Connor, Clem Starck, Jim Dodge, Gary Snyder, Michael Daley and many others.
There is a sensibility (although hard to put your finger on) that ties all these artists and writers together in a loose but solid Northwest school. Half those poets I just mentioned I worked in the woods with all through the 1970s and ‘80s. If I had a dollar for every night we sat around a blazing wood stove in a tent drying out socks and gloves after a long wet day in the woods, I’d be a wealthy man. As Robert Sund said, “Poets with mud on their boots.”
From Village Books:
In this new book, Finn Wilcox gives readers of the off-the-road literature the sweet wine and tangy whiskey of his 3 books: Here Among the Sacrificed, Flower Mountain, and Lesson Learned. Add a healthy supply of new Wilcox work, and you have a collection demanding to be read to your beloveds, to your children and parents. This elegant tour de force by a devoted artist has the precision and clarity, care and compassion for which Finn is loved among workers of the word, and the woods and sea.
“From hobo jungles …to the cave of a hermit nun on a mountain in China, from the life of Pacific Northwest tree-planters to the tenderest of love lyrics, these poems and prose anecdotes sparkle…” — Clemens Starck
“These stories and poems are the sort I’d expect to find among the men’s clothing at Goodwill: survivors of the real world, not something I’d wear to a job interview.” —Bill Porter
Finn Wilcox worked in the woods of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains with the forest workers co-op, Olympic Reforestation, for twenty-five years, planting over a million trees. He spent a great deal of time riding the rails, learning about the life, journeys, and history of the once-respected American Hobo. His first book, published in the 1980’s, Here Among the Sacrificed, includes poignant photographs by Steve R. Johnson, depicting the people in boxcars and railroad yards who appear in Finn’s memorable poems and stories. Too Late to Turn Back Now contains all of Finn Wilcox’s published work: the freight train poems and stories, all the poems from Nine Flower Mountain, detailing his travels in China; Lesson Learned, love poems; and a suite of newer poems and stories called Not Letting Go. From the mid-seventies through the early nineties, Finn was an editor for Empty Bowl Press. He and Jerry Gorsline edited Working the Woods, Working the Sea: An Anthology of Northwest Writing. Finn and his wife Pat Fitzgerald live in Port Townsend.