Labyrinth Dance

Author Catherine Rickbone has released a second edition of “Labyrinth Dance,” her collection of poems centered around themes of family, close connection, memory and aging. Originally published in 2011, this edition includes one new poem, “Funeral Pyre,” and significantly revised versions of more than half the works.

“This edition is an opportunity to look at work I created 15 years ago – to revise from a different stage in my life, from a wiser point of view,” said Rickbone. “In this revision I explore different tense, voice, format, dialogue, and word choice, as a way to communicate more directly with the reader. From my new perspective, I saw how these poems could be stronger.”

“Rickbone meditates on the inner beauty of her family members and draws striking, measured, beautiful intimate portraits. But her book’s subject does not stop there,” said Dr. Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas 2017-2019 and winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry. “[She] reveals the beauty under the surface in everyday encounters with strangers and the unknown, such as in ‘Waiting for the Bus,’ where a blind man touches the poem’s speaker’s face, saying ‘She’s beautiful’ to the crowd, getting at the magic of this collection – its beauty, its immediacy, its closeness. This collection reveals the beauty in everyday lives.”

“It’s a timely topic,” Rickbone said, citing “How the World’s Foremost Maze-Maker Leads People Astray,” Nicola Twilley’s Nov. 22 piece in The New Yorker. “There is renewed interest in labyrinths and mazes, and there are more to see than the famous Chartres Cathedral one in France. Now people commission them in settings ranging from European and American gardens to a vertical maze in Dubai.”

“I think the relevancy of this labyrinth metaphor speaks to us today,” Rickbone said. “Don’t we all feel trapped at times? Some challenges are of our own making, others imposed upon us: economic, health, religious, family, political, moral or emotional. I believe we as humans are always traversing, trudging, and tiptoeing through entrances, dead ends, and exits in our lives.”

Local author John Baker puts it: “'Labyrinth Dance' is a non-whimpering reflection on pleasure, pain and family, a wonderful imaginative celebration... [Rickbone] handles sensuality with grace and passion... The collection... is real, visionary and poignant.”

Rickbone retired in 2020 from a 50-plus-year career in arts administration, education, marketing, and business, most recently serving 13 years as executive director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.

She's currently researching her next book, a work in progress loosely conceived using forms of creative nonfiction, memoir, and new forms of the personal essay.

“I'm finding a lot of fluidity as I work, which I'm enjoying,” she confided. “I'm so happy to have time to devote serious study to these forms and get up to date on 20 years of changes in the craft.

“This new discretionary time allows me to take a deep dive into creative writing and hone my skills for the books, essays and poems I plan to write in the future,” Rickbone said. “I’m embarking on the path of my own creative labyrinth and experiencing the pure joy of learning.”

Rickbone continues her arts advocacy by serving on the statewide board of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon, as chair of the City of Newport's Public Art Committee, by serving on the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition and Arts Revitalization Toledo, and co-chairing of Willamette Writers Coast Branch.

Her poetry has appeared in The Echo, Quivira Literary Magazine, and other publications. She is part of the Oregon Poetic Voices archive hosted by Lewis & Clark College (oregonpoeticvoices.org), and she's also the author of “What She Knows,” a full-length poetry book.

To purchase a copy of the new edition ($10 or $16 with postage), email Rickbone at catherinerickbone@gmail.com. The book is also locally available in Newport at Nye Beach Book House, 541-265-6840, and at JC Thriftway Market, 541-265-6641.

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