Review by Eric Weinblatt
Poetry is nothing short of a skilled art form and recently Dale Pendell has proved his mastery of the art in his collection Salting the Boundaries. The collection takes readers through an entire year in the Sierra foothills of Northern California. While exposing the readers to the elements, Pendell is sure to keep any consumer of his wildly lustrous verse company throughout the year. Divided out into three sections, the collection is nothing short of awe-inspiring and transcends the power of the page by offering a truly unforgettable experience in every stanza.
The initial section of the collection, Brushing places readers in late spring. The relaxing dew of the morning air, and refreshing crispness of a spring day in Northern California lies at the final line of each of these enchanting poems. The following section, Salting The Boundaries from which the title of the collection is given, transitions the readers through summer and autumn while gently reminding them that Dale Pendell is no novice when it comes to history, current events, and classical poetry. Using elements and references from all three, he creates a sensational tone of conflict and artful resolution as he manages to both delight and still shocks his audience with each subsequent stanza. The final section of the collection Winter Potions brings the reader into winter with each chilling verse. Each serves to remind readers of Pendell’s knowledge of Celtic and Yoruba traditions. These traditions serve as a foundation for the poetry contained not only in the final section, but also throughout the collection. As the collection comes to a close, readers will find themselves warmed by the fire of Pendell’s verse. This comes across as masterfully cozy as Pendell reminds us, “In California and other ‘Mediterranean’ climates, winter is when it rains. Fires are in the stove. It’s a good time for writing, and books.”
Overall, Dale Pendell is nothing short of a pleasure to read. Each of the poems contained within Salting the Boundaries stands strong on its own and works in conjunction with the previous and following pieces. Pendell offers a voice that is both soothing and shocking, harboring a rich connection to both nature and tradition. It is no wonder that Gary Snyder boasts, “I’m glad I cleared the desktop and spread out and read all of Salting The Boundaries this evening. These are all new poems to me and new n tone, style, and vocabulary. The breadth of knowledge and concern, mythopoetic, geologic, historic, et al is splendid.” The collection shares a voice akin to Snyder yet simultaneously unique. The experience of a year in the foothills is something utterly unforgettable and Dale Pendell drives the point home with Salting the Boundaries.