“Dune Tracks,” the new poetry collection by Francis Fike, professor of English emeritus at Hope College, begins in coastal Michigan but journeys far from home as well.
Many of the poems, including the title poem evoked by the cover-image (a painting of a lakeshore dune by Michigan artist Debra Reid Jenkins) celebrate Michigan lakeshore landscapes and birds, but a mix of additional poems spans centuries and countries: It includes a contemporary adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Prologue” to the “Canterbury Tales,” and translations from Spanish and French poems by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Théophile Gautier. Published by Fithian Press, the book also features some of Fike’s hymns and a song.
The poems in “Dune Tracks” are in traditional form, not free verse: They use meter, rhyme and stanza form. Fike studied formal verse with poet/critic Yvor Winters at Stanford University, where as a graduate student he held a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry. The book ends with a memoir of his time with Winters, followed by a poem in tribute.
“Dune Tracks” is his sixth book of poetry. The others are “Underbrush” (1986); “In The Same Rivers” (1989) and “Off and On” (2000) — all published by Robert L. Barth; “After the Serpent’s Word” (Fithian Press, 1997); and “In Season and Out” (2003), published by Equilibrium Books. His poems have appeared in anthologies and in many well-known journals, including The Classical Outlook, The Epigrammatist, The Formalist, Hellas, The Southern Review and church-related journals such as Anglican Theological Review, Perspectives and The Church Herald.
He is also the author of articles and reviews that include studies in both British and American literature, on theology and literature, as well as personal essays such as “A Skulk of Foxes” in Audubon Magazine.
Fike received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University, a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in creative writing (poetry) and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. After having taught at Stanford and Cornell universities, he became a member of the Department of English at Hope College in 1968, from which he retired in 1998. He served as poetry editor of Perspectives from 2000 to 2005.
“Dune Tracks” retails for $12. Copies are available at the Hope College Bookstore in the DeWitt Center located at 12th Street on the Hope College campus, as well as online and through other booksellers.