Paul Lindholdt is a professor of English at Eastern Washington University, with a PhD in early American literature. His preparation in poetry began with a graduate degree when he studied with Annie Dillard and won an Academy of American Poets Prize. Shortly thereafter he began publishing these poems in Beloit Poetry Journal, Chicago Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Sewanee Review, and Southern Humanities Review. All told, twenty-four of these forty-five poems have appeared in arts journals, history journals, and standalone books.
“The lyricism and power of Paul Lindholdt’s evocative poems bring both the nature and culture of the American colonies to life in ways no history book ever could. A work of remarkable originality and insight, Making Landfall is a brilliant journey into the dark heart of our nation’s colonial past.”
—Michael P. Branch, author of Rants from the Hill and How to Cuss in Western
“The well-wrought poems in Paul Lindholdt’s Making Landfall speak in the many voices from America’s colonial frontiers. The personas include Native Americans, colonists both male and female, the poet, the outcast, the illicit lover, the persecuted, and the persecutor. Lindholdt’s notes offer a steady guide to the multitude of speakers in this deeply satisfying collection.”
—Priscilla Long, author of Crossing Over: Poems and Fire & Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
You don’t need a degree in anything to enjoy the writing in Making Landfall. Creative, scintillatingly historic in both telling and flow! If you’re a history buff, this is a solid one to just have on the coffee table or in a guest room. Read it twice, will read another two times!
Making Landfall is a collection of glimpses at life in the Americas during colonial times, conjured from historical texts, legends, songs, and translations. Paul Lindholdt illustrates the perspectives of indigenous people, women, colonizers, slaves, and members of fledgling communities, giving voice to facets of history that are often overlooked. Native flora and fauna also make frequent appearances, and the land’s natural beauty is present throughout each story.
Paul Lindholdt’s collection of poems in Making Landfall, showcases his remarkable ability to carry the reader along on a transformative journey. He becomes his subjects-words eloquently weaving us through their storied lives rubbed raw by the hardships of colonial times in the New World. I recommend Making Landfall to anyone interested in experiencing American history through evocative verse such as Mr. Lindholdt has presented.
The critic Norman Cousins said Ernest Hemingway’s greatest accomplishment was not the drama but, “his ability to see beneath surfaces.” That’s the wonderful quality of Paul Lindholdt’s new volume of poetry. On the surface, topics are Puritans, cattails, epitaphs and arrowheads. But what is beneath? I loved this five-line portrait of an autocrat, called “Magistrate”: I wanted to snap him by his smock and shake his teeth. I wanted to say Own up to your crimes and travel free, Begin with your complicity in bewitching Rachel Newman’s milk cow.
In “Making Landfall,” scholar and essayist Paul Lindholdt demonstrates his facility with verse and his expertise in 17th-century New England culture. The poems that comprise his collection were apparently composed over an extensive period, and distill his academic specialization in Early American literature. Most of the poems represent character profiles: some Colony leaders and perhaps more names most of us don’t know or remember. Lindholdt certainly demonstrates a facility with inhabiting various female points of view, lending them voice and power they lacked in that patriarchal theocracy. Lindholdt’s stanzas sing through various ways: near rhyme, blank verse, e.g. What’s especially engaging about “Making Landfall” concerns the ways in which it complicates our monolithic understanding of Puritan culture–for many, derived from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Instead of life defined primarily by black, grim devotion, these lyrics reveal a range of sensibilities and familiar emotions. Certainly they show that Puritans experienced the same carnal appetites as any of us. In fact the tensions between the extravagant and often public life of the spirit and the usual tug of sexuality render these historical figures human. Thanks to “Making Landfall,” readers know that life in and near Boston proved more complex and strangely familiar than we’ve been led to believe. O. Alan Weltzien
The scholar, teacher, and environmental activist Paul Lindholdt is also a distinguished poet, and Making Landfall is both announcement and confirmation of the fact. Many of these poems have appeared already in prestigious journals and literary magazines, but, taken together, the individual parts both cohere and strike sparks in their conversations with each other. That impressionistic unity is an achievement in and of itself. However, the pleasures to be gained from a sensuous encounter with the language and, let’s face it, the history that Professor Lindholdt adroitly weaves into these myriad voices (do not omit the Notes at the conclusion) make for a truly rewarding reading experience. When one speaker notes how “the smell of leaf mold / heavens my senses,” we’re presented with an image that evokes a colonial past and pushes back against it simultaneously. Besides the imaginative verb, the idea conveys a contemporary attitude toward nature that frightened our Puritan forebears, and the author plays with this ambivalence throughout. The ultimate effect is to undercut our smug exceptionalism and reveal the manifold ways the European arrival in “the new world” was a devastating landfall indeed.
Paul Lindholdt’s “Making Landfall” reincarnates voices from the colonial era of American History, some strident, some whispering, all begging to be heard. From ministers to slaves, servant girls to Native Americans, farmers, drunkards, settlers, explorers, each, in turn, illuminates a facet of life richly embedded in natural beauty and simmering with human brutality, longing, and sometimes, just a flicker of hope. Akin to Edgar Lee Masters’ ‘Spoon River Anthology” where a multitude of voices builds a collective narration of love and loss, regret and buried passion, these historical characters struggle for redemption in a world fraught with internal and physical danger. Lindholdt’s love of the era and its accoutrements, his obvious passion for the nuances of the natural world, its flora and fauna, elevates the episodic memoirs of the characters into a pastoral symphony of voices accompanied by wind, weather, and birdsong. Just as Hawthorn’s Custom-House agent, when laying his hand on a small package instinctively knew “There was something about it that quickened an instinctive curiosity, … with the sense that a treasure would here be brought to light,” so too do Lindholdt’s poems open desire and anticipation in the reader.
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