THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “STONY RIVER,” BY TRICIA DOWER AND “SUBSTRATE PHANTOMS,” BY JESSICA REISMAN, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
THE BOOK: Moondrifter Reverie.
THE AUTHOR: Keith Emmons.
THE EDITOR: Michael Scofield and Susan Gardner..
THE PUBLISHER: redmountainpress.us. Santa Fe, New Mexico publishes poetry and poets’ memoirs and literary fiction.Our books represent the point of view of the author and are beautiful objects of lasting value. The authors retain full rights to their work. We use the best papers and printers, with manufacturing processes that are low impact and resource conserving.
SUMMARY: In this poetic memoir, author Keith Emmons chronicles the unspeakable beauty of life in a houseboat on San Francisco Bay during the free-wheeling days of the 1970s, and incants his dismay as his vibrant waterfront community is crushed by land speculators. Keith’s colorful language flows as free verse, haiku and short poems. “I felt as if I were there,” readers remark. Moondrifter Reverie recounts the author’s “coming of age.” While he and his New Age community celebrate each jubilant day on the open water, he is disabused of his naïve yet valid reverie through the shore people’s pragmatic constricting materialism — aka. money-making greed — which crushes the idyllic life he assumed would last forever. Yet we know Keith survives, for as “the creatures of the sea have faded from my eye and the winds of my dreams have turned into the gears of the approaching engines gnashing their metal teeth. As I have heard their relentless approach as they close their jaws around me. I will be away, slipping between their teeth, to another world they’ve not yet found.”
THE BACK STORY: Could I afford a home in Marin County, California, the richest county in the United States? No way. But I could buy a place to live: Claire and I moved in with million dollar views in every direction for $1,400 onto houseboat Moondrifter, anchored on San Francisco Bay. The Moondrifter is a wood Landing Craft abandoned by the Sausalito shipyard after World War II, upon which Bob Spotswood carpentered a tiny cabin.This was the hippie nineteen-seventies. Just inside the entry hung Bob’s painting, the moon as he saw it one night during an acid trip. Claire & I floated in pre-matrimonial bliss as time and tides swung our home, rocking in circles through balmy California days and the bow-busting waves of Pacific storms. Eventually however, developers got control of the waterfront shoreline. Enter the“waterfront wars” as our community fought to save itself from the deadening Master Plan to kick out “freeloaders” and line up all the houseboaters into forty-hour workweek rent slaves. I lived through it, and recorded our joys and sorrows.
WHY THIS TITLE? Readers love Moondrifter Reverie’s title and the cover’s water image. The cover is Susan Gardner’s original photographic work, and Susan, Red Mountain Press’ owner, helped create the title too. As we searched in the work for the best title Susan said, “Keep looking. It’s in there somewhere.” I lived on Houseboat Moondrifter and I was a spiritual drifter. I take meaning for “moon” from Alan Watt’s teachings that in life we often “mistake the finger for the moon.” This is to say we mistakenly take dogma, or our ideas, or our words even in poetry, to be the actual reality they are trying to reveal to us, as opposed to being our personal reflection of that reality. So the moon is, for me, a symbol of illusion. And for me, living on the Moondrifter was a delightful, delusional, dream reverie.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? You’ll love the poetry: spacious meditative haiku and near stream of consciousness story telling. It’s a fun read.
“Keith’s lyrical gift is gentle on the heart. Moondrifter Reverie invests the anxious 1970s with nobility and even, dare I say, with dignity. … recreates the sheer loveliness under the hustle and bustle and delivers it fresh.” — David Landau, novelist, Death Is Not Always the Winner.
“Emmons is a Zen poet — not poetizing about Zen but embodying its realizations. He knows we can’t tell our entire stories, even of ourselves to ourselves.” — Edward Barna, Vermont poet and writer.
“Moondrifter Reverie takes me back to the 60s and 70s when so many of us struggled to make our communities reflect our own esthetics and values.” — Len Anderson, Founder, Hummingbird Press.
“Moondrifter Reverie celebrates sunshine on the mudflats and the desire to live free. Keith captures an era, the spirit of youth, hope and possibility. Plus his poetry is dang fun to read!” — Peter Prasad, author of Campaign Zen 500BC-2012.
AUTHOR PROFILE: I graduated from Harvard without discovering answers to any of the real questions of life. The Vietnam war was raging and I was cannon fodder. I had learned one thing: the course of our society was somehow badly twisted and I was determined not to be a part of it, although I had no idea what better direction to go. So I just plain went: hitchhiked two years around North America visiting Zen Centers, ran a rock group in Mexico City for three months, lived ten years on a houseboat, married, two kids, ten years selling real estate in Silicon Valley, divorce, single dad, remarried, twelve years of intensive Buddhist studies and most recently a three-year, three-month, three-day silent meditation with my honey at our off-the-grid home in the Santa Cruz mountains. The entire time I wrote poetry. Moondancer Reverie is my first published book.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “I knew we were losing the battle: the last free ride of ‘livin’ on the water’ was almost dead. I can’t say if the Mayor was in the developers’ pocket or the developers were in the Mayor’s pocket, but one thing was for sure: our waterfront community was about to be flushed. I couldn’t stand it. So I climbed to the top of the three tree trunks lashed together on a sunken barge nearby, sat cross–legged, and purged my soul: in three and a half days sitting thirty feet in air over our beloved waterfront, I wrote down the whole ten year’s — 185 pages. Seventy-five pages of that turned into ‘The End of the Veil.’ About fifty pages of ‘The End of the Veil’ turned into Moondrifter Reverie, with the addition of haiku and short waterfront poems.
something about how shore people think.
her lower decks submerged at high tide.
where the folks know each other.
hand in hand.
cause it keeps out strangers.
don’t come down here.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Buy Moondrifter Reverie from:
3) from me through my website: keithemmons.com.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I’d love to hear from you! Send me a note through “Contact” at my website:keithemmons.com.