If Singing Went On by Gerald Cable

Gerald Cable book of poetry
Editions:Paperback: $ 15.00
ISBN: 978-1737510499
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 125

Gerald Cable’s poems are so full of life—exploring, inquiring, imagining—that it’s still hard to come to grips with his too early death. There is a wonderful spontaneity here, as the poems twist, weave, dart and land in unexpected places. In this absorbing book Cable moves through a wide assortment of jobs—crab fishing, panning for gold, farming and construction work—as well as extremes of weather—30 below winters, violent summer rainstorms—and a multitude of human and animal encounters. As they offer up verbal and sensory revelations, these poems express the full richness of one man’s experience.

— John Morgan, author of nine books, including The Hungers of the World: New and Collected Later Poems

It must be good to know, deep inside, that one lived one’s life to the fullest. I never met Jerry Cable, only heard about him—but I feel I’ve met him now, and I am stunned. His poems capture what it is to live and work for twenty years in Interior Alaska, all the while navigating between one’s past and the future, the cold and warmth, the fun and not. At the same time, many of the poems are like shining, mystical riddles. Spare and honest, they explore what lies beneath the moment – vivid, poignant, ecstatic, unsayable.

— Carolyn Kremers, author of Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup’ik Eskimo Village, The Alaska Reader: Voices from the North, and the poetry collection Upriver, finalist for the 2014 Willa Award

Gerald Cable’s new poetry book, If Singing Went On, is an extraordinary collection that explores the beauty and heartbreak of the world. These poems are the words of a man who built his own cabin in Alaska and worked construction there for many years. They examine ordinary events and difficult topics, all with the same careful attention to language. The voice in these resilient and achingly beautiful poems is powerful, confident, and wholly unique. I recommend this book with all my heart.

— Linda Schandelmeier, author of Listening Hard Among the Birches and Coming Out of Nowhere, winner of the Willa Award

Reading Gerald Cable’s posthumous book If Singing Went On is like listening to an intelligent friend telling you about his day. He reels out thoughtful descriptions with insight and fresh metaphor from an active and capacious mind. Ranging from observations of abandoned dredges in Alaska to harvesting the garden in fall “…the cold heart of joy.” He surprises at every turn… Against the hard metal of industry, he flashes forth with organic metaphors connected to the natural world… He would have us know, as he says to a friend, “It’s cold, Emily, and the world sails hard for the sun.” His words come to us alive as ever.

— David McElroy, author of the poetry books Just Between Us and Water The Rocks Make


Cover art by Tami Phelps, "Polychrome Pass"

Publisher: Sandra Kleven
Imprint: Cirque Press
Cover Artists:

Cirque Press Author — Gerald Cable

Gerald Cable

Jerry Cable grew up on a ranch in Fall River Mills, a small town in the northeastern corner of California. He served in the Army in the early 1960s, and after discharge, earned a BA from Chico State in 1965. In 1967, looking for adventure, he flew with a pilot friend in a small plane from San Francisco to Fairbanks, Alaska. Over the next 20 years, he worked as a surveyor, built a cabin with his partner, and made a close community of friends. All this time he wrote: radio plays, journals, and poetry. In 1982 he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He continued working seasonally as a surveyor, always capturing his world in poems. In 1987 he was diagnosed with cancer and left Fairbanks to pursue treatment. He spent the last months of his life in Red Bluff, California awake to all around him, writing his life this last time in his poems. He died in Chico, California early in 1988.