Strong as Silk. Brigit Truex. Lummox Press: San Pedro,
CA 90733 - 5301. January, 2012. Paper:
8 1/4 X 8 1/4. ISBN: 978-1-929878-83-3. $ 15.00 + Shipping.
Strong As Silk is based on actual events that played out
barely 20 years past the discovery of gold. Set in the rugged
and remote Sierra foothills of California, it is the universal
story of “stranger in a strange land,” without reference to the
specifics of place or time. Instead, it blends imagination with
inference. Both created journal entries and traditional Japanese
poetic forms are used to give insight into the daily dramas,
large and small. The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony has been
compared to the early settlements of Plymouth and Jamestown in
the Eastern United States, where optimistic and determined
newcomers faced immense challenges in bringing their dreams to
reality. Each lasted but a short time, but their impacts echo
still. Within the historic time-markers of “start” and “end” lie
stories of hope, conflict, loyalty and success, all elements of
this varied and moving collection.
Brigit Truex has lived in the four quarters of the States since
beginning her writing career. In each locale she has also
established workshops to help others hone their prose and poetry
as well, but her primary focus is on poetry. Her mixed ethnic
background (French Canadian-Abenak/Cree and Irish) has been a
theme she continues to explore in her work, approaching it from
various angles. The historic Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony was
based in the nearby community of Gold Hill, a scant 10 miles
from where she currently lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of
northern California. Its universal story of "stranger in a
strange land" resonated with her as the tale evolved and grew
from an initial single poem into this detailed book, the result
of extensive research and truthful imaginings.
The author has been published here and abroad in various
literary journals and anthologies including Atlanta Review, Tule
Review, Native Literatures, Yellow Medicine Review and others.
She is a board member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and
Storytellers and Native Writers Circle of the Americas.
Excerpt from a review by Grady Harp, 2-12-12
STRONG AS SILK is a little miracle of a book,
another gift from the craft of fine publishing of the Lummox
Press. It is a sensitive combination of recalling true events in
the history of California in the 19th century and recreated
through the talented mind and hands of Brigit Truex...
Truex relates this touching historically accurate story by means
of poetry presented visually in near calligraphic style, letters
form the members of the colony, photographs of the members,
articles from the San Francisco and Sacramento newspapers,
dividing her book into sections Arrival, Harvest, Waiting, and
Ending. In addition to the beauty of her prose and poetry Truex
includes a cast of characters, biographies, explanation of
Japanese customs and words and festivals, and the resources she
used to compile this book.
This is an exceptional book, rich in a history about which few
of us are aware. it also asks the reader to experience the sense
of being a 'stranger in a strange land' - some that each of us
at some point in our history (or our present!) have experienced.
A very beautiful, touching, and memorable book.
between pages –
pale green flower? a jade moth?
Ah, the word took flight!
~ * ~
wrapped in rice-paper, wings furled.
Early plum blooms first.
~ * ~
steps into pond of black silk.
Water heals itself.
~ * ~
line, wild geese
inscribe farewell notes on sky.
Wind fingers their nests.
~ * ~
like notes on fence wire,
five midwinter crows.
See the song take flight.
~ * ~
silk blossoms --
despite others’ names for you,
you still bloom the same.
~ * ~
is in awe of you,
armored silver toad.
Moths flutter their fans.
~ * ~
Am I to
a toad in the pond
telling the same tales all night?
~ * ~