Excerpt from my novel at The Provo Orem Word

Provo Orem Word March 2011 Issue

The Provo Orem Word, an online venue for artists in the Provo-Orem area of Utah, has published an excerpt from my novel The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004) in this year’s nature-themed issue.   You can read the excerpt and rest of the issue here, or click on the picture.   Also, check out the ad for The Pictograph Murders and Wilderness Interface Zone on the inside of the first page.   My son Saul designed that.   I think it’s cool. The links weren’t working today but POW is trying to remedy that.

This issue also contains an interview with Terry Tempest Williams, who will perform a reading from her book Finding Beauty in a Broken World at Brigham Young University on March 17.   This occasion interests me for a couple of reasons, one of them being that Williams has not read at BYU in over 20 years, although faculty members like Eugene England were interested in inviting her.   I think this event long overdue and am glad for it.   If I were up in that area, I’d attend.

Beside Williams’ interview, there’s also a nice piece by George Handley titled “Secret Memory.”   George published an excerpt of his book Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River here on Wilderness Interface Zone.

The issue contains many other gems, including the eighth chapter of an epic poem titled “Rough Stone, Rolling Water” by Dennis Marden Clark.

The Provo Orem Word is an online literary magazine that publishes a nature-themed issue every March, but Rebecca Packard, the publisher/editor, is happy to take submissions all year long at submissions@provooremword.org. The ‘zine publishes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.   For submission guidelines and a list of The Provo Orem Word’s other themes for this year, email Rebecca at the above address.     Rebecca says, “Not being affiliated with the area will not hurt an author’s chances of being published.”

I’m not a resident of Utah Valley anymore; it didn’t hurt mine!

Bird’s Eye by Jonathon Penny


It’s funny how things look
From however many thousand feet
One has to be to sail on clouds and see no birds.
And when the clouds burn off, I find a charm in streets €”
Their random pass, the patchwork of man’s world,
The green and brown space, the plaid or checkered shirt,
The crawl of hills as if topography encroached on man
And not the other way around.

I like a well-graphed neighborhood,
The cluster of a town from time to time.
Even cars look innocent from the air, like brilliant gems.
Cities, on the other hand, are better from the street.

Lake Michigan still dwarfs (thank God)
Chicago’s €œskyline, € if not its awful sprawl.
(By heaven! an awful phrase, that:
Shades of Babel, as if the sky were touched at all.)
It is a sea, white-dotted, of blue cloud
That feels eternal from the air €”an immeasurable body, undulant,
That seems from here untouched by our small passing.
It’s different in the ooze, or so I’m told.

So distance and largesse inveigle perception:
Earth bears our abuse, sky our infection,
I know. But still, it’s stunning from up here.
The earth looks mighty good for being old:
Sinews of clear water, veins of human gold.
It’s funny how things look from God’s eye view €”
Like something out of Hopkins: clean, bright, and new.


For Jonathon’s bio and more of his poetry go here, here, and here.

Sirocco by Jonathon Penny

Dubai_UAE resized

A man could almost fall in love
With this sun-dyed black-gold place
Could go for arid mile on mile
And never see God’s face
And thus avoid disgrace.

A man could drift and wander
Change his shape like blood-red dunes
Pour his freedom out like water
And his faith like feckless spume.
After all, there’s ample room.


For Jonathon’s bio and links to other poems he’s published on WIZ, go here.

Desert Song by Jonathon Penny


Remember wild, ungardened greens?
Dark mulchy woods of unkempt trees?
That broad, telestial paradise
Of birds and bugs and field mice?

Remember snows of varied hues?
High drifts? spring thaws? fat summer dews?
And fragrant, flatland buzzing air?
Paint-palette, musty harvest fare?

We’ve none of those in this dry place
Where seasons are a figment of degrees
And landmarks fickle as a ninja bride:
Trembling within, inscrutable outside.

But still, this scorpion desert stretch,
This single-seasoned wasteland planet’s kvetch,
This Godful bare and burning arm,
This empty quarter has its vagrant charm:

For one, it’s always warm.


Jonathon Penny took his MA in Renaissance literature at BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature, and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname €œProfessor Percival P. Pennywhistle. € Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to those he has published on WIZ, he has grown-up poems forthcoming in Dialogue and with Peculiar Pages Press.

For more of Jonathon’s poems on WIZ go here, here, and here.