Plum Tree

Daniel Bowman Jr.’s first poetry collection is A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country (VAC Press, 2012), which was nominated for the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.


“In his first collection of poems, Dan Bowman describes quotidian moments of ordinary life and before you know it, mystery enters and twists everything. One minute we’re walking by the canal with the perfectly reasonable goal of getting somewhere gettable, and the next minute the humdrum landscape turns bizarre and we can’t figure out where we are. The book is haunted by ancestors and cultural memories and premonitions and ghosts. It captures brilliantly the strangeness of being human. Let these poems stand as a warning and a promise. There’s no predicting what will happen: a plum tree is, yes, blossoming in Leatherstocking Country.”

~Jeanne Murray Walker, author of New Tracks, Night Falling; The Geography of Memory; and other books

“Daniel Bowman Jr.’s poetry is as American as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and Chief Seattle blended in the prairies and lakes and mountains and the passion of the American spirit, from New York across the wide land. It is always human and it sings splendidly, rich in animistic mystery. I delight in these poems. Bowman has a great big heart and finds himself home in the lyrical brotherhood.”

~Emanuel di Pasquale, translator and author of Writing Anew: New and Selected Poems

“Mohawk comes / like blackbirds at dawn” begins “Poem for the Undead,” first in Daniel Bowman, Jr.’s A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country. “Weaves itself / into itself / like twisted weeping willow,” the poem continues, “face delicate / curled as ivy.” If in the silken eeriness of the poem’s heavily enjambed lines you sense something of American myth and folklore, then you are not far from the source of the poems and the poet: the Mohawk River Valley, Upstate New York. The way the presence “Mohawk” enters the poems bears traces of Hawthorne’s ghost tales and legends of the Catskill Mountains…

Plum Tree is filled with the appearance and disappearance of mist, comfort foods, bridges and canals, the fall and winter months, cities—but it is also visited by an intangible ghostliness and poems that defy a simple materialism…These poems walk through reality and back out again—on the other side of the diner is a dreamy world with unfolding potential, dimensions. Part of the excitement of Bowman’s collection is the sheer homeyness of the poetry’s more concrete aspects paired with lines investigating spiritual realities.”

~Hannah VanderHart in Ruminate

“To say that the poems in Daniel Bowman, Jr.’s debut collection, A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country, are rooted in a specific place would be inaccurate. These poems aren’t rooted at all. Instead, they wander and drift like restless ghosts, or clouds of fog in a valley. In this case the valley is that which surrounds the Mohawk River in upstate New York, where Bowman was raised.

Using sparse, image-heavy lines (it’s easy to recognize the influence of Eastern poetic traditions here—each of the four sections employs a haiku as epigraph), Bowman creates a portrait of the region and its inhabitants that is complex and haunting, yet familiar…These poems will speak to any reader who knows what it is to love a place and then leave it. Longing, a sense of displacement, and maybe even regret are palpable…These minor notes are balanced, however, by joy and playfulness. Bowman extracts melody from the glorious cacophony of life…Like the plum tree of the title, these poems describe how beauty can, against reason, grow and thrive in an inhospitable land.”

~Image Update (featured review)

Read other reviews at The Instant Librarian and Holly Goes Lightly.

Watch the book trailer for Plum Tree: