Going Places, set abroad, is the companion volume to Steel Valley Elegy. The first section is inspired by two years as a Fulbright professor at the University of Seville; the second draws on lengthy stays in Barcelona, birthplace of his wife Roser; the third features their travels in Europe; and the fourth tours the world, including some places the author has only visited vicariously. The extensive collection ranges from sophisticated European pleasures to the miseries suffered by people in remote countries. All the poems display memorable narratives enriched by telling details, a lucid sensibility that combines grim wit with thoughtful commentary; his craft is marked by a love of sonorous words, a knack for the poetic line, and a deft way of moving the poem down the page. Going Places is the mature work of an impressive writer.
Praise for Going Places
William Heath is a master at describing his journeys to fascinating, exotic, and challenging places in the world, where people, history, art, and natural beauty inspire his poetry. He weaves unforgettable poems with humor, skill, intelligence, and compassion, for he is a poet who loves the world and celebrates it, while accepting that its beauty is often fragile, tainted by human greed and imperfection. “Travel is the saddest/ pleasure in the world…” Heath writes, thus capturing the traveler’s pleasure of discovery and the pain caused by witnessing the suffering of others, the ravages of war, oppression, and ignorance. The speaker in Going Places is a chronicler and an artist who observes, a tourist taking photographs in Andorra, East Berlin, Pisa, Teba, and writing lines that capture people and places, the passing of time, life’s brevity. His travels, not limited to geographic destinations, include journeys of the heart and of the imagination. He writes about Nefertiti’s tomb and about unforgettable meals and wine tastings in exquisite detail; both form part of his interest in the human experience. Half of these poems are devoted to Spain, Andalusia and Cataluña in particular. The reader encounters a young poet discovering the world beyond where he was born. “Like any Ohio boy, the first time/ a gypsy holds out her hand/ I shake it. Watch your wallet,/ I learn…” he writes in “Barrio de Santa Cruz.” Heath’s book also contains poems about other countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Because he cares deeply about humanity, he searches the past for lessons we should have learned but didn’t. Thus, his view of the future is grim. In “Fossil Time” he writes, “We’ve known for decades/ global warming is a lethal threat/ but we refuse to listen/ and we refuse to act—/ midnight is nigh, my friends…” Few poets understand the fragility of our world as deeply as Heath does. “Our hold on this world,/” he states, “is a thin thread.” We have much to learn from him and from his poetry.
—Esperanza Hope Snyder, author of Esperanza and Hope
William Heath, Hiram College graduate ‘64, has just published Going Places (Kelsay Books, 2023), a companion volume to his earlier collection Steel Valley Elegy (Kelsay Books, 2022). The poems in his recent collection are all set abroad—including Seville, where he served as Fulbright professor of American literature for two years (U of Seville); Barcelona, home of his wife, Roser; travels throughout Europe and tours of the world. If you loved the poems about the Steel Valley, you will also love these because they’re seen through the same observing eye. On the cover, by the way, is a photo of Bill, Roser, and Roser’s mother. —Joyce Dyer, author of Pursuing John Brown: On the Trail of a Radical Abolitionist
Hiram College graduate, longtime professor of history and literature, exemplary tennis player, and good friend, Bill Heath has published a remarkable, enjoyable, insightful and delectable book of poems, poems of delight and insight. They are delicious poems with place names that ask to be pronounced aloud. Many of these poems are not only churches and markets, the roofs, spires, but also the serious and most often the sad historical times. Those familiar with Bill’s adventures will recognize many of the episodes. And will recognize the constant presence of his equally talented wife, Roser Caminals-Heath, herself an award-winning author. Finally, Going Places demonstrates the poet’s supreme skills of language. A poet like Bill Heath helps us understand and focus our concentration on the intersection of places, times, a poet’s imagination, and our own sensibilities and perceptions. The ultimate gift of great poetry. —Jim Vincent
The poems in this book offer literary depth—and what is unique in poetry today, a great deal of fun. Going Places is a sequel to Steel Valley Elegy, published last year. The title describes the collection well, since these poems are all based on travel and destination, including mental voyages into the lives of a wide variety of personalities. It’s a book for world travelers as well as for those who haven’t had the chance to venture far beyond the front door. —David Salner in, The Arlington Literary Journal
The Poet and the Poem interview with William Heath
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