Robert Reed Publishers
The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales by Mark Sturges
The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales explores the inner-connectedness of man and his friends in the insect world—as well as man's connection with any other beings that might be traversing the soil or flying through the skies. Creatures living under the ground as well those above the ground are presented in their relationship to the home gardener, as well as the commercial farmer. Author Mark Sturges employs an important tool in his poetry called personification, which encourages the reader to respect insects as conscious creatures rather than something to be stepped on. The Return of the Fertilizer King and other Tales moves from the forest to the pasture to the vineyard and back again. Soil restoration through organic composting is the underlying thread that weaves this collection together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark U. Sturges is, indeed, a fertilizer king. His farm in Bandon, Oregon; he ships organic compost and nematodes and dung beetles to thirty states. Mark has been a poet for over thirty years. In addition to writing, Mark sells fine wine on the South Coast of Oregon. He and his wife Maryanne have lived in Bandon, Oregon, for about thirty years.
A Review by Susan Pettrone for Reader Views (1/07)
The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales by Mark U. Sturges is a different sort of poetry book. Not your flowery poetry with tales of deep love or darkest moods, no, this is a poetry book written by a man who believes strongly in man's relationship with the insect world and their place together in it. Written in a lighthearted manner with references to everyday life, this book covers subjects known to the author such as "The Bottle Collector" a unique soul who dashes through busy traffic, a feat he seems to have replayed from somewhere in his youth, to gently lay by his collection of bottles and cans a dead raccoon. Within this poem we see a tenderness that belies his bottle collecting activities and one that gives hint of the man he is inside. In this poem we see in a few words, what otherwise might never be known about this man.
Throughout this book we read many other descriptive poems which reach beyond the ordinary to show a side of the subject at hand that others might miss had it not been for this poet. One piece that haunts me still is a poem entitled, "Under the Purple Plum Tree," where the poet wakes in the night hearing a cougar's cry, and finds himself for an instant wondering if his beloved chocolate lab is safe. Too soon he remembers with a pang that the lab is not in harms way but is buried under the same purple plum tree that he tried to eat fruit from just yesterday. I found myself feeling the empty sadness of the poet echoed in the cry of the cougar and knowing that were I in his shoes, I would not find sleep coming easily either after this cry.
Though this poet is not a mainstream poet, and does not address the popular subjects of poetry today, there is something about his poetry that sticks in ones mind and comes back time and time again to apply itself within everyday life. Perhaps it is the common subjects the poet uses and perhaps it is the basic, easy to relate to, language, but whatever it is, it works to draw the reader into the poetry and want to read more.
Coming from a small rural community, I can see all too well the men I grew up knowing in this poetry. The frank honest subjects and the simple unaffected language make for poetry that can touch many ages and backgrounds of readers, from the Midwestern no nonsense mentality to a city dweller that has never seen a pitchfork, much less used one to spread manure.
I would recommend The Return of the Fertilizer King and Other Tales for those who are looking for a taste of simple poetry with a flavor of a man who knows what it means to get his hands dirty with good honest work in the soil. This book was a refreshing change from standard rhyme schemes and in it's honesty it will appeal to many who might not otherwise choose this type of poetry. Mark U. Sturges is a breath of fresh air with his poetry, and with his approach to life...something every reader can appreciate from time to time