Letters from a Stranger

Poems by James Tipton

With a Foreword by Isabel Allende

Winner, Colorado Book Award

James Tipton is the world’s preeminent surrealist beekeeper. At his home on a high mesa near Grand Junction, Colorado, he bottles 10,000 pounds of honey each year, and writes poetry in the tradition of Neruda, Vallejo, Breton, Blake, and Robert Bly, extending the vision of a world that is simultaneously real and magical.

In Letters from a Stranger, Tipton’s first and long overdue full-length collection, each poem testifies to the bedrock of imagination. Taken together, the poems are extravagant yet earthy, tender yet passionate, wild yet intimate, crazy yet hopeful, and they describe how love can transform the world, renewing everything that is and calling forth everything that might be. It is a poetry of transformations, an invocation of exuberant vitality. As Tipton writes in “There are Rivers of Oranges”:

When we deeply imagine
we no longer imagine at all,
but dive, at last, naked and alive,
into the flesh of oranges, into
the steaming jungle, into words
that hang like orange rain,
like love just before it happens.

Tipton’s poetics, echoing Emerson, have led him to become “a master at following whims,” and the leaps of Tipton’s whimsical and profound metaphors are leaps of faith, bringing otherwise invisible or forgotten connections to light. As remarkable and surprising as they are, however, they are still manifestations of this world, flowers of a correspondence with Isabel Allende, who observes in the Foreword to the book that “these poems were written by a man who was born to write poetry.”

James Tipton is widely published, including credits in The Nation, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Greensboro Review, Esquire, Field, and American Literary Review, and also in various anthologies and other works including Aphrodite, by Isabel Allende (1998), and Bleeding Hearts, edited by Michelle Lovric (1998). He is currently at work on two other volumes of poetry, The Alphabet of Longing and No Thoroughfare Canyon.

From the Foreward by Isabel Allende

Jim Tipton’s poems have accompanied me like faithful nightingales in the long night that followed my daughter’s death. Now I am back on my feet. I have the will to live and the joy to write again. Now I can read Jim's poetry with new delight, linger at the images, the magic and the language. I cherish these letters from a stranger that talk of ordinary experiences—wings, canyons, rocks, flesh—but mainly that other extraordinary experience...love. These poems are written by a man who was born to write poetry.

Praise for Letters from a Stranger

"Truly a pure and beautiful voice, a light. What a beautiful poet Tipton is, what new ways he shows the soul, just when we think it had no place else to go...When I say he breaks open the heart it come from finding something I didn’t even know I had lost. I carry these poems with me."x—Grace Cavalieri

"James Tipton writes a spare, deeply disturbing, indeed shocking poetry, which never descends to the soft option of the current degraded language and scatographics of those who affect candour these days—thereby showing how much he honours the language and respects himself and most of all, us, his readers and beneficiaries."
—Arcangelo Riffis

"Tipton’s poems are a great celebration—lovely & lush, just what we need as antidote to the pared-down self-pity that seems to be the going thing."
—Conrad Hilberry

"James Tipton’s poetry fuses Neruda and Whitman, and adds something new and sensual too: a fragrance of desert honey. And his poetry sings, soft but strong, to the souls of women. Every woman would love to be loved in the way Tipton loves."x
—Michelle Lovric


"Tipton’s images are strong and striking, yet tender and at times more delicate than the proverbial butterfly’s wing. The author is keenly, joyously alive; his almost painfully sharp powers of observation cut most deeply when he reveals the wondrous in the commonplace, recalling mica "that flaked like the pages of angels," or a cat "who dances off the bed...to go outside and hunt the day."x—Lynda La Rocca, Colorado Central Magazine

"The poetry of James Tipton...is unique, engaging, splendidly crafter, and enduringly memorable."xThe Midwest Book Review

"He smoothly fits the abstract and the concrete together, as if they were old friends. Tipton is an author who speaks to our hearts and can be enjoyed by all."x—Peter Thorpe, Rocky Mountain News

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