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Haiku Journal Issue #55
Near Death / Near Life by Dennis Maulsby
Near Death / Near Life strikes a meaningful and tender balance between the appreciation for life's poignant moments, and the human experience of war, both as a construct and a memory.
Poetry: 114 Pages, Paperback
Dennis Maulsby is a retired bank president living in Ames, Iowa with his wife, Ruth, a retired legal secretary, and his dog, Wally, a retired CIA operative. His poetry and short stories have appeared in Lyrical Iowa, The Des Moines Register, The North American Review, Spillway, Haiku Journal, The Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Briarcliff Review, and other journals.
Maulsby is a native of Iowa and a graduate of Marshalltown High School and Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. A U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, he served with the 25th infantry Division while in country. He is a past president of the Iowa Poetry Association.
"To read Dennis Maulsby's powerful, uncompromising poems is to inhabit the vivid, surreal dream of a soldier--to see the world as he, a Vietnam veteran, did, many years ago. The poems are about the horror of war, and loss, and the road back to civilian life, described in hauntingly beautiful and precise images that you cannot forget. As they bear witness to the reality of war and its lasting effects, they are a triumph of honesty and the power of art. Read them."
Karen E. Bender, author of Refund
"In his newest collection of poetry, Near Death/Near Life, Dennis Maulsby captures a devastating universe of visceral juxtapositions with acuity and grace. His sensual images alternate between the raw and highly polished, move from being softly lyrical to staccato-rapid firing, blend unique jazz riffs with discordant turbulence. The language is compelling, interestingly fresh, concise and layered.
Maulsby's poetry is intense and immediate, and can leave the reader breathless as memories of war-time nightmares take on tender overtones, but he intersperses well-crafted haiku, musical interludes, historical fragments and love poems throughout his book to offer moments of respite from the symphonic killing fields he depicts. Complicated, intelligent, moving, fascinating, horrifying—Maulsby's book is a rare glimpse into the creative spirit struggling to reconcile the brutal realities of death with the compassionate beauty of life."
Marilyn Baszczynski, President of the Iowa Poetry Association
"Maulsby's third collection of poetry begins in violence and ends in an aria, carrying the reader along in an intimate and tender journey through decades of love, life, war and peace. Along the way, we touch on all the things we've come to expect from Maulsby--haiku, Vietnam, deep imagery, capital-R Romanticism, etc--but we also see an expansion both in the scope of the content and in the exuberant and musical prosody. Settle in, fasten your seatbelt, and plan to spend some time with this book!"
Jim Coppoc, Senior Lecturer, Iowa State University Author of Manhattan Beatitude; Reliquary; and Blood, Sex & Prayer
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