About Kathleen Ripley Leo
Kathleen Ripley Leo
Photo by Richard Tikiob

The Circle is AssembledThe Old Ways

Town One South

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Detroit Working Writers

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This book of poems, awarded a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts, has been lauded as a contemporary Spoon River anthology: it brings back to life the odd characters in and around the turn of the century town of Northville, Michigan. This book was commissioned by the Northville Arts Commission to celebrate Michigan's Sesquicentennial. This project epitomizes the blossoming of poetry at the grass roots level where real people live. These poems are well crafted and present a satisfying microcosm, a language diorama that will entice you to look for these characters sitting on park benches the next time you're in Northville.

Critical Acclaim:

"TOWN ONE SOUTH is local history spun into evocative contemporary verse, a unique sesquicentennial project of the Northville Arts Commission, supported by the Michigan Council for the Arts."

Leonard Kniffel, The Detroit Free Press

"TOWN ONE SOUTH is certainly one of Michigan's most exciting sesquicentennial projects ... of interest far beyond the reach of Northville."

Herb Scott, Poet, Editor of New Issues Press, Western Michigan University

"This talented poet's fourth book portrays the setting and growth of Northville, Michigan through narratives akin to Masters' Spoon River Anthology."

Edward Morin, The Detroit News

  From 'Ovenshire':

I was a funeral director,
drying the tears of those left behind,
doing the duties & the comforts,
driving the wagon to Rural Hill
or Cady Street. That was the problem --
the other horses coming up behind
& passing us & I blame my horse,
her proud spirit & gray hide,
She caught the racing fever every time
& we'd speed down the streets,
caskets bouncing, bereaved in shock......."

Kathleen Ripley Leo
Copyright 1988


  From 'Robert Wallace Runaway Slave':

We slaves passed on the good news:
bounty hunters were routed out
from Michigan, empty-handed.
No runaway fish shackled foot to hand
was thrown back to the Deep South.
So I conspired,
another runaway at the Meads Mill.
Heard Cady Inn was good, too
& other homes & farms,
sanctuaries to our borrowed lives......

Kathleen Ripley Leo
Copyright 1988


  From 'James Putnam, Private':

I sought the rebels in Virginia,
ate my hardtack rations with forage,
fiddleheads in our greens, squirrel
meat for the stew, hickory nuts,
& pignut tea drawn dark to the tin cup.
A bald eagle we raised from a hatchling
flew away at battle call, our mascot
to return at night to its perch, .....

I returned after the war to plow my fields,
I see the others lately killed & missing,
& the bright fragments of their bones
piercing battle calls 100 years later.
Their names are on a black marble wall:

Richard Edward Cronk
Robert Arthur Gregory
Gerald Allan Holman
Robert John Regenhardt Jr.

We used to call war, war, --
& walk in the parades
dressed in our Union blues & sword.

O, those many years ago

Kathleen Ripley Leo
Copyright 1988


  From 'Elementary Morning, Rain':

A girl waits for the bell,
her thick golden hair like a sheaf
of paper the wind lifts.
Soft straw slipping out of the loft,
blunted half way down to the ground.
Golden cotton layered on her back
& waiting as on a railway siding.
naked in its smoothness,
wild in bluntness, as it it were fingers
hanging down her back in remorse
for the rain, for the brushing:
too loose for taming. No ribbon
can hold it. Straight, thick,
& O, wild.................

Kathleen Ripley Leo
Copyright 1988

Sun Dog Press
Available from Sun Dog Press: sundogpr@voyager.net $9.00 includes shipping.

Sun Dog Press
432 N. Center Suite 3
Northville, MI 48l67

Contact Ms. Leo