A Variable Sense of Things by Ron McFarland
Editions:Paperback: $ 18.00
ISBN: 978-1737510482
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in

The teacher assigns her fourth-grade students to write “poems as lovely as trees,” and they go at it, these students whose aspirations are a display board at the county fair. Young Ron McFarland takes the subject to heart, and from his pencil unfurl leaves, sturdy branches, sunlight between the branches, possibly fruit and a wayward kite, and most certainly a nest in which birds burst with song. McFarland, in this and previous collections, goes far beyond trees. I see McFarland coloring the world, a sort of John Constable, beginning with trees and then with tenderness and art making it all come alive.

— Gary Soto, author of New and Selected Poems, a National Book Award Finalist, and One Kind of Faith

If you were to sit down with Ron McFarland (kitchen counter, seminar table, barstool), you would soon understand that he knows a very great deal about a whole lot of things and can talk about any of them with savvy and erudition, mostly disguised as plain talk. The experience is not a whole lot different from reading A Variable Sense of Things, his latest book of poems. Sometimes wry, sometimes downright funny; sometimes elegiac, sad, or rueful, and always, always smart. They do not strain, these poems. They are wise. They mean exactly what they say, and more.

— Robert Wrigley, author of Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems and The True Account of Myself As A Bird

Intensely personal poems, studded with unexpected ironies like grace notes, which illuminate the depth below the surface.

— Mary Clearman Blew, author of Think of Horses

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Publisher: Sandra Kleven
Imprint: Cirque Press
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Cirque Press Author — Ron McFarland

Ron McFarlandRon McFarland was born in Bellaire, Ohio, grew up in Cocoa, Florida, took his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Florida State University in Tallahassee, taught two years at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, garnered his doctorate at the University of Illinois with a dissertation in 17th-century British literature, and embarked on a nearly 50-year teaching career at the University of Idaho, where he acted as impresario of poetry readings, served for many years as faculty advisor of the literary magazine Fugue, and helped create the MFA program. He played soccer with the Idaho club team for more than twenty years.

He was an Eagle Scout, and he played trumpet in a very good high school band. He almost played on the baseball team at Brevard Junior College (now East Florida State College), but instead edited the school newspaper, which prompted him to be a writer. He worked as library assistant in the Cocoa Public Library. In Texas he and a colleague edited a freshman composition reader-rhetoric, American Controversy, published by Scott-Foresman in 1968—his first book.

Confluence Press (Lewiston, Idaho) published a chapbook of his poems, Certain Women, in 1977, and he edited an anthology, Eight Idaho Poets, published by the University Press of Idaho. In 1984 he was named the state’s first Writer-in-Residence, a two-year position that entailed giving ten readings a year throughout the state for the next two years. In that context Confluence published his first full-length book of poems, Composting at Forty. His thirty-odd books include chapbooks of poems and booklets in the Western Writers Series on Tess Gallagher, William Kittredge, and Norman Maclean. The University of Idaho Press published his The World of David Wagoner in 1997.

Ron’s new and selected poems, Stranger in Town, appeared in 2000, the year Permafrost Press released his chapbook, The Mad Waitress Poems. His most recent full-length collection of poems, Subtle Thieves, appeared in 2012. Other titles include a memoir of growing up in Florida during the 1950s & 1960s, Confessions of a Night Librarian and Other Embarrassments, Catching First Light (stories & essays from Idaho), The Rockies in First Person (a study of regional memoirs), Appropriating Hemingway: Using Him as a Fictional Character, Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars and most recently, Gary Soto: A Career in Poetry and Prose (2022) and Professor McFarland in Reel Time: Poems and Prose of an Angler (2020).

His two grown daughters and son have provided him with five grandchildren. With the love of his life Georgia Tiffany, pianist, former high school teacher, and poet, he has acquired four additional grandchildren. Georgia’s first full-length collection of poems, Body Be Sound, has just been published by Encircle Press. An occasional bird hunter, he regards himself as an avid but mostly inept fly angler. He currently serves as program director of the Clearwater Fly Casters.