Blue Orange   (May 2012)


By Robert Grunst

ISBN: 978-0-912592-12-1

Winner of the 2010 Robert McGovern Publication Prize, Nominated by Marilyn Chin

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“Blue Orange is an extraordinarily vibrant book, peopled with vivid characters—Smethers, Dottie, Ramón—come alive, singing gospel, bowling, planting, harvesting, driving to Korea in an old Ford. The vignettes make one nostalgic for a carefree, exultant small town mid-America, even if this world seems oddly archetypal, hyper-real and historicized in a tintype. Even if, like Gaspar and Miguel Corte Real’s, Donald’s whereabouts will never be settled; even if roofs and swing set sets are treacherous. Even if the dogs…. Beyond family and tribe the book attempts a daring global reach in various colorful travel poems: exuberant flora and fauna assert themselves—marmosets, shrikes, horses telling tales and leaping out of their otherworldly Latin America taxonomies, making ‘elsewhere’ here. Ultimately, this book is a joyous reading adventure, making even the most blue-cast among us sing ‘hallelujah!’ and devour tasty oranges. I love this book!”

- Marilyn Chin


“In Robert Grunst’s poems the city’s forgotten signs rise from memory into mid-day light. Blue Orange conveys the luster of words, revealing both an older and brightened sense of the world. These poems are at once both shrewd and true.”

- Stephen Kuusisto


“The blue orange is something forgotten in a fruit drawer, spoiling, before its discovery releases a second beauty. The image serves the poet well in poems that recover ghosts of family members and his own childhood, lives of hard labor and damage, lives he honors. The ripe orange is something else entirely, appearing as it does in poems about the now—full of loved ones and travel to remote, strange places—where the speaker hopes to find ‘something marvelous / some inconceivable / inscape // Instead you chance upon a world / of grief.’ The journey of the book, then, brings us from dimness into light, to the bite of the fruit, to the best gift: the sweet acid of the present in the mouth.”

- Richard Robbins


About the Author

Robert Gunst

Robert Grunst’s first collection of poems is The Smallest Bird in North America (New Issues, 2000). His poems have appeared in American Literary Review, Cimarron Review, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seneca Review, Tar River Poetry, and many other magazines. His essays focusing on the history and culture of the Great Lakes commercial fishery have appeared in a number of publications including Inland Seas, Lake Superior Magazine, and Michigan History Magazine. Grunst was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana and raised in Holland, Michigan on the western shore of Lake Michigan. He taught 9th grade English for the Midland, Michigan Public Schools and subsequently spent three years working as a gillnet fisherman and engineer on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. He teaches a variety of courses including creative writing as Professor in the English Department at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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