A stunningly colorful cover drew me into Curt’s narrative book, “poetry of the engineer,”
a photo of “The vintage steam engine circa 1900 used for many years to raise and lower the Tower
Bridge in London.” Curt underscores in his bio, “Yes, I am an engineer. Who else would put a steam
engine on the cover of a poetry book.” Curt’s “Forward” further sets a wry tone: “Engineers are
considered left brain creatures, analytical and methodical. That’s why we are called propeller heads
and wear white socks....Conversely, those that are the “more creative types”, like poets are
considered to be right brained. They wear sandals and no socks.”
Many poems are rhymed couplets in iambic pentameter, others are in various length stanzas, as well
as “a villanelle for the Cubbies”: “At Wrigley Field.” Curt’s poems are witty, poignant, many last lines
quite insightful, often a twist on ways of thinking that I hadn’t considered.
In “I Didn’t Know How Bad I Had It,” he narrates boyhood memories on the North Side of Chicago
living above two different taverns his first five years, one having “A brown bear on a leash
would/dance at the juke box to “You Are My Sunshine.” At another bar, The Television Inn, he
recalls they had the first TV in the neighborhood and that he cried when Whitey the bookie “was
cuffed and loaded into a paddy wagon.” These fine details in many of the poems makes the reader
feel present, yet back in time within Curt’s memories.
In “The Spirit of a Norwegian Village,” I envisioned the author’s relatives in a lovely town in Norway,
with its Lutheran church, and “the joyous day when King Olaf stopped by,’” yet surprisingly ends with
inviting the reader to “Stop in for a cup next time you’re close by,/Route 71, Norway, Illinois.”
Several black and white illustrations further complement poems. In “Mighty Megan at the Bat,” three
photos show a six-year-old as she hits the ball, running to several bases: “Megan heads to first, she
takes it in stride,/with a little smirk that’s so hard to hide...Megan reaches the bag with time to
spare/two steps ahead of the ball getting there.”
My favorite poem, “Shades of Grey,” accompanied by an illustration in grey shading, relays in four
stanzas a close-up portrait of a seaman: “The visor of his leather cap hides much/of his furrowed
brow./Steel wool eyebrows head off in every direction.” Again, the details give a feeling that Curt
knows the character well.
A fine collection of thoughtful and fun poetry. Highly recommended.
poetry of the engineer
by Curt B. Vevang
Available on Amazon.com
February 22, 2021