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January 26, 2020
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Nonn’s poetry inspired by RP Creeks

  • Poet Tim Nonn is on one of the foot bridges crossing Hinebaugh Creek. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Lanny Lowery
March 1, 2019

“A Patient Desire,” published two years ago, brought Rohnert Park resident Tim Nonn’s poetry to the public.  At the end of Feb., Nonn’s second book of poems, “The Path Worn by Love” will appear in local bookstores and will also be found through Amazon.  Nature perceived through the senses characterizes this collection of sixty-four poems.

The speaker of these poems believes that everyone has a path just waiting to be located.  The speaker assumes a time immemorial task:  find hidden love and share the secret.  A single frog may reveal some of love’s message; one must be prepared to make the discovery with one or more of the five senses.

Nonn emphasizes sensory perception as his speaker announces that there are “10,000 ways of touching earth.”  Or all must be alert to “hearing beauty daily.”  And no surprise that senses become magnified as Nonn has written his two books of poems while literally journeying into darkness.  He writes, “When I went blind voices came alive,” to stress how other senses compensate for the loss of sight.

The adventure begins not in fear but in testing this new situation.  In XVIII, the speaker ponders, “How can I trust in all this darkness?”  And in XXIII, the speaker comments, “Nobody told me darkness would look like this.”  The speaker learns that “touch begins with experienced fingers,” suggesting that other perceivers have always been there and now will receive more use.

Read these poems singly or totally, they add up to the title, “A Path Worn by Love,” which is embedded in XXVIII.  Love includes every experience in nature and its restorative powers as shown in XLVIII:  “All it takes/is one bird/and a beautiful song/to awaken joy.”  Read Nonn’s poems or walk by local creeks awake and alert to all of nature’s experiences.

Three contemporary American writers praise “The Path Worn by Love.”  Maya Khosla, poet laureate of Sonoma County, writes: “With spare, clear, language, Nonn shows his immense gift for listening to the smallest sounds and to the silences. . .. His poems advise, they draw us in, they invite us to listen.  And we would be wise to take his advice.”  Khosla admires Nonn’s intense perceptions.

Michael Rothenberg, an American poet, songwriter and environmentalist, comments on Nonn’s work as a go between, an interpreter of nature.  “Tim Nonn has caught the breeze and light of day, the dark nights and endless rivers, that run through a world of interconnectedness.  We go with him through the gentle pathways of the heart and we are better for it.”  Poetry expresses a relationship between the poet, his subject and his reader.

Former Sonoma State Professor Jonah Raskin, author of many books, understands Nonn through the poems.  “I have never met Timothy Nonn in person.  I only know about him from his poetry and through word of mouth, which tells me that he is blind.  If that is so, then it makes sense to me that so many of his poems describe hearing, listening, touching and telling.  Nonn sees much more than those who have 20/20 vision.  . . . His poems are fresh, original, heart-felt, inspiring and glorious.  They make me feel good to be alive in a world with so much darkness.”  And, if Raskin gets to know Nonn better, he will realize how accurately he reads him and his poetry.

Tim Nonn does not just live in his world of poetry; he applies his insights to the political world around him: insight combines with ethics to make a political activist.  Nonn’s career has been devoted to organizing, especially in third world countries since the 1970s.  More recently, in 2016, he became involved with local school district issues and became a trustee concerned with inclusion of all students, parents and community members.  He sees a connection between poetry and politics:  “Since being elected to the school board in 2016, I’ve thought about the relationship between poetry and politics.  A stereotype of poets is that they are disengaged from politics.  Two of the earliest poems, ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey,’ have politics at their core.  As a former seminarian, I read poetry in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that seamlessly wove art and politics together.”  

For Nonn, poetry cannot be separated from politics.  He emphatically states, “I believe it’s essential that our politics be informed by our art and our art be informed by our politics.  At its best, poetry centers politics in a love for the earth and every living being that inhabits it.  Conversely, politics keeps poetry real.”  Frogs are important, birds singing in the wind are important, all children and all parents in the education system are important to Tim Nonn, poet and politician.

Following the arrival of his new book in stores and through Amazon, Nonn will offer a poetry reading March 16 in Cotati between 4 and 5:30 p.m.  Attendees should RSVP to gschmitz26@gmail.com.