Seeking the Button Rock Hermit
by Tony Burfield
From the manuscript which garnered the Meadowhawk Prize*
Tony Burfield follows his chapbook collection of haibun, Sawhorse, with Seeking the Button Rock Hermit, another collection of haibun concerning his local region of residence in the foothills near Lyons, Colorado, and centering around the mythic and elusive hermit/persona known as the Button Rock Hermit, first mentioned in his previous collection.
Some of these poems have appeared in Beats: Writing from A Place of Urgency, Contemporary Haibun Online, Haibun Today, and Ink, Sweat, and Tears.
"Tony Burfield provides one kind of map through his elusive poetics of naming. Poem after poem follows prints, scat, and scents leading both the speaker and the reader into brush encounters with the hermit. The search grants readers a greater awareness of being within a tiny, little sliver of the planet—a way of being that celebrates, seeks, mourns, and grapples with existential questions including how to seek the hermit given today’s planetary ache. Seeking the Button Rock Hermit is most definitely grounded in a specific place. But the method of the search speaks to any reader looking to reclaim or deepen one’s mythic experience of the Earth in an age when the Earth is so often anything but sacred."
—Aaron M. Moe, author of exhalations and Ecocriticism and the Poiesis of Form
"Tony Burfield spent a decade mastering the haibun, and in Seeking the Button Rock Hermit, his mastery of the form is on full display. "The Button Rock Hermit has had many names," Burfield writes in the collection's first poem, and as promised, throughout the book the Button Rock Hermit takes on the form of the mystery, terror, and awareness of human insignificance that comes with a genuine encounter with the wild. The haibun poems in this collection split time between linear narrative storytelling and immediate meditative presence. On the cusp of the Anthropocene, Burfield's writing should serve as a reminder about what it truly means to live on this planet."
—Matthew Ussia, Duquesne University, author of The Red Glass Cat
"In the crossroads of careful observation and in a place “so quiet, it’s all bug buzz, raven wind, raven croak”, Tony Burfield realizes that his time in the wilderness is “my time to watch and learn.” Burfield’s masterful use of the haibun is the perfect form to track his awakening, in which he shares the spiritual aspects infused in the natural world. In the wild, he “skirts the summit regularly, not for sweat, but for sacred loneliness, for tender paths.” On the trails outside his house in the Rocky Mountains, he longs for the mythic and the authentic, for an encounter with the hermit that may live on Button Rock Mountain. His poetry records his elusive search, pulls the reader up the mountain to immerse us into the wild where he learns, “So as the cougar opens up the neck of the deer, I open my chest up to the harsh light."
—Kathleen Willard, author of Cirque & Sky and This Incendiary Season
*Before Scott King of Red Dragonfly Press passed away, he graciously awarded the manuscript for this book the Meadowhawk Prize. With Scott King's passing, his manuscript was then gladly reacquired by Middle Creek Publishing.
About The Author
Tony Burfield lives with his wife in Pinewood Springs, CO and works at the Boulder Public Library. His poetry has appeared in Bombay Gin, Modern Haiku, and Rattle. In 2017 his collection, Sawhorse, won the Fledge Poetry Chapbook Award.