Volume 30, Number Two         ________                            _     Spring 2014 

James Dickey Newsletter On-Line (www.jamesdickey.org) continues the historical emphasis on the work of James Dickey that began with print issues at DeKalb College in Fall 1984 with Volume One, Number One, continuing through Spring 2003. After a brief interval of print issues from The University of South Carolina, senior editorship returned to founding editor Joyce Morrow Pair with the editorial assistance of Professor Gordon Van Ness and Longwood University. On-line publication began with Volume Twenty-Six, Number One.  With this issue, Volume Thirty, Number Two, we bring James Dickey Newsletter to a close.  Thank you to our contributors and our readers, especially those who have been along on the entire journey.

Special Addendum

Fall 2015 marks the publication of the poems James Dickey was working on at the time of his death. Death, and the Day’s Light, edited by Gordon Van Ness, with foreword by Christopher Dickey and afterword by Dave Smith. We are pleased to include herein a review by Professor Gary F. Leising, of Utica College.  Publication of these last poems find their appropriate setting in this addendum to the final edition of James Dickey Newsletter on line.

Inside:  Review Essay: Death, and the Day’s Light, by Gary Leising


His is a poetry of ecstatic transformation, sometimes into animals as in ‘For the Last Wolverine,’ sometimes into deities, as in ‘Falling.’ And sometimes into animal-deities, like ‘The Owl King.’ He was looking to transcend complacent human experience and get at the animal-god that is inside us, with all its primal sexuality, its hunger, its raw carnality.”
Christopher Dickey, in “For James Dickey: A birthday interview with his son, Christopher Dickey.”
Scott Bowen. (True Slant.)


For the Last Wolverine

They will soon be down

To hear James Dickey read “The Last Wolverine,” please click image.

To one, but he still will be
For a little while    still will be stopping

The flakes in the air with a look,
Surrounding himself with the silence
Of whitening snarls. Let him eat
The last red meal of the condemned

To extinction, tearing the guts

From an elk. Yet that is not enough
For me. I would have him eat

The heart, and, from it, have an idea
Stream into his gnawing head
That he no longer has a thing
To lose, and so can walk

Out into the open, in the full

Pale of the sub-Arctic sun
Where a single spruce tree is dying

Higher and higher. Let him climb it
With all his meanness and strength.
Lord, we have come to the end
Of this kind of vision of heaven,

As the sky breaks open

Its fans around him and shimmers
And into its northern gates he rises

Snarling    complete    in the joy of a weasel
With an elk’s horned heart in his stomach
Looking straight into the eternal
Blue, where he hauls his kind. I would have it all

My way: at the top of that tree I place

The New World’s last eagle
Hunched in mangy feathers    giving

Up on the theory of flight.
Dear God of the wildness of poetry, let them mate
To the death in the rotten branches,
Let the tree sway and burst into flame

And mingle them, crackling with feathers,

In crownfire. Let something come
Of it    something gigantic    legendary

Rise beyond reason over hills
Of ice    SCREAMING    that it cannot die,
That it has come back, this time
On wings, and will spare no earthly thing:

That it will hover, made purely of northern

Lights, at dusk    and fall
On men building roads: will perch

On the moose’s horn like a falcon
Riding into battle    into holy war against
Screaming railroad crews: will pull
Whole traplines like fibers from the snow

In the long-jawed night of fur trappers.

But, small, filthy, unwinged,
You will soon be crouching

Alone, with maybe some dim racial notion
Of being the last, but none of how much
Your unnoticed going will mean:
How much the timid poem needs

The mindless explosion of your rage,

The glutton’s internal fire    the elk’s
Heart in the belly, sprouting wings,

The pact of the “blind swallowing
Thing,” with himself, to eat
The world, and not to be driven off it
Until it is gone, even if it takes

Forever. I take you as you are

And make of you what I will,
Skunk-bear, carcajou, bloodthirsty


Lord, let me die    but not die

James Dickey, “For the Last Wolverine” from The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992. Copyright © 1992 by James Dickey.   (Permission of Christopher Dickey.)


2 Responses to Home

  1. Sarah L. Larson says:

    Thank you so much, Joyce. You have given your heart and mind to this historic achievement.
    With love and admiration,
    Sarah Larson

  2. Rex S. Wignall says:


    I was re-reading the Wikipedia article on James Dickey, and discovered your wonderful website on “all things Dickey.” I wrote a reply to Gordon (Van Ness) in appreciation for his very personal remembrance of Dickey. Could you make sure it is forwarded to him?

    Thanks for your labor of love all these years. James Dickey remains a unique voice among poets, and I am thankful you provided this site, making so many resources available to us.

    Rex S. Wignall

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