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  • The Hummingbird Sometimes Flies Backwards

The Hummingbird Sometimes Flies Backwards

Winners of the Proverse Prize No. 18

D. J. Hamilton.


English , 2019/11 Proverse Hong Kong

Tags: Poetry

210 x 145 x 7 mm , 112pp ISBN : 978-988-8491-79-7

  • US$22.00


In Stock

The Hummingbird Sometimes Flies Backwards is a wide-ranging collection of poems on varied subjects and in different voices by the American poet, D. J. Hamilton. The poems are drawn primarily from his years spent in Mexico and Central America, as well as the country of his birth."

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The characters and voices of the poems in Hummingbird range across time and distance, from Wisconsin farms to Mexico, from Eve to Ezra Pound, from innocent young lovers to guilty priests and Greek myths to current conflicts. The poems vary in tone from contemplative to comical, and hopeful to heartbreaking. There are poems of intellectual and philosophical questioning, love poems, poems that grieve for the dead, and poems that rage at injustice and the abuse of power. The poems show a variety of poetic influences including Modernism, Organic Form, Imagism, and the idea of the line as a unit of perception, Many poems are written about characters, or in the voices of characters, sometimes multiple characters and dialogue. There is also a great variety of topics and themes: Wonder and appreciation for the beauty of the natural world; the nature of time; the nature of language; political oppression; romantic and sensual love – often as a vehicle for self-discovery. The poems are not arranged chronologically. The sudden shifts of tone, the many different topics and themes, and the seeming contradiction of very different types of poems are all deliberate choices. This book, like life itself, doesn’t follow a straight line, but zigzags there and here, with unforeseen twists and turns, abrupt reversals, and inevitable returns. Like a hummingbird.

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“Craft steeped in compassion, wit, sorrow, mercy and love.”

—Michael Daley, founder of Empty Bowl, author of True Heresies.

“Profound, passionate and knowing…this remarkable collection takes the reader on a compelling journey of the imagination, transcending time and space.”

—Michael Ingham, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, author of Hong Kong – A Cultural and Literary History.

“Hamilton has a powerful descriptive sense – closely observed landscapes and people.”

—Peter Kennedy, University of Hong Kong, author of There.

“A life’s work in miniature.… Ranging across spiritual, political and erotic sensibilities, these poems are meditative, richly allusive, with frequent, unexpected turns to the ironic, and with a lyrical voice that envelops, sucking you gradually into the vortex of language, metaphor and lived experience.”

—Jason Eng Hun Lee, Hong Kong Baptist University, author of Beds In the East.



D.J. Hamilton grew up in a farming village of 400 people near Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Public school teachers first encouraged his passions for writing poems and creating theatre. 

Hamilton’s poems appear in a handful of publications including: Ofi Press; Repentino; Dalmoma, Firecrackers, Bumbershoot Anthology, Compages, and others. He has won local awards for his poetry, and plays, and a New York Fringe Festival award for his theatre directing. 

Previously he lived in Port Townsend, Washington; home to many artists, writers, small presses, and the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. In Port Townsend he first became interested in classical Chinese poetry, Buddhism, and Taoism. Here he also first heard some of the writers and translators who would influence him: Denise Levertov, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Galway Kinnell, Arthur Sze, Paul Hansen and Red Pine. The writers and publishers of Empty Bowl and Copper Canyon Press, in particular became friends and mentors. Returning to Seattle he founded Theatre Babylon, a small alternative theatre company focused on new plays. He has acted and/or directed plays in Canada, Europe, Mexico, New York and other US cities. In 2004, he moved to Mexico began his teaching in International Schools in Mexico. He now lives in Hong Kong with his wife, the teacher and psychologist, Montserrat Salazar.


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