Alan Holder

Voices Against Silence: ($15, ISBN: 978-1-937536-86-2, Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-68114-124-4, LCCN: 2014950750, 6X9”, 98pp, February 2015; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes and Noble): employs a variety of tones, ranging from the deadly serious to the humorous, as, celebrating language, it addresses materials drawn from both the human and natural worlds. In poems that are always accessible, its focus is sometimes on the specific and near at hand, sometimes on large questions arising from the human condition. In accordance with this, it stands ready, at one moment, to contemplate a pet cat, at another, the cosmos.

Holder - Sky - Cover - 9781681142074 - 2

Sky Gazer: ($20, 142pp, 6X9″, Print ISBN: 978-1-68114-207-4, EBook ISBN: 978-1-68114-208-1, LCCN: 2015915803, April 4, 2016; Purchase on Amazon, Google Books, or Barnes & Noble): Firmly rejecting the unabashed subjectivity and accompanying impenetrability of much contemporary verse , Alan Holder’s Sky Gazer, from first to last, makes its poems steadily available to the reader, assumed to be “a creature of feeling” and addressed directly. The reader is onboard for a train ride or in-step for a woodland walk. It continually registers that great commonality of human experience, the four seasons. The poems share the sights that come the poet’s way—so much of what he sees assumes the status of spectacle—the source of many of those arresting sights being the heavens, which Holder never tires of contemplating. He has a fondness for long, winding verse sentences; some poems consist of but a single one. Again and again, Holder alludes, sometimes implicitly, to works by great figures of the literary past—Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Melville, Twain, Yeats, Frost, Stevens, Eliot, Dylan Thomas—using them as springboards to go his own way. Repeatedly, his poems raise questions that do not admit of answers. Sky Gazer takes seriously one of the prescriptions for poetry that Stevens sets forth in Notes toward a Supreme Fiction: “It Must Give Pleasure.”

“Firmly rejecting the unabashed subjectivity and accompanying impenetrability of much contemporary verse, Alan Holder’s Sky Gazer, from first to last, makes his free form verse steadily available to the reader, assumed to be ‘a creature of feeling’ and often addressed directly. The reader is onboard for a train ride or in-step for a woodland walk. Sky Gazer continually registers that great commonality of human experience, the four seasons. The poems share the sights that come the poet’s way-so much of what he sees assumes the status of spectacle-the source of many of those arresting sights being the heavens, which Holder never tires of contemplating. He has a fondness for long, winding verse sentences; some poems consist of but a single one. Again and again, Holder alludes, sometimes implicitly, to works by great figures of the literary past-Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Melville, Twain, Yeats, Frost, Stevens, Eliot, Dylan Thomas-using them as springboards to go his own way. Repeatedly, his poems raise questions that do not admit of answers. Sky Gazer is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university Contemporary American Poetry collections.” Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch: March 2016, James A. Cox

Alan Holder was born and bred in Brooklyn, and then received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D from Columbia University. Over a period of forty years he taught at Columbia College, University of Vermont, University of Southern California, Williams, and Cornell, but principally at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has published four books and several articles in the field of literary criticism. For two years after retiring, he wrote a weekly column on the environment for The Redding Pilot. He also served as a teacher’s assistant in day-care centers. Having specialized in the teaching of poetry during his career, he continues to teach it at The Ridgefield Public Library. His poems have appeared in a variety of venues, and he is the author of two chapbooks of verse, Opened: A Mourning Sequence and Aging Heard in the Clouds.

“Whether addressing vegetarianism, the natural world, or the experience of jogging, Holder’s poems are invitations to enjoy, think, and discuss. This accessible collection of poems, replete with cultural references, is an excellent choice for poetry workshops for teens and a stimulating choice for book-talks.” —Hilary Crew, February 2015, VOYA Magazine

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