(Woodpecker Lane Press 2016)
A TEENAGED SOLDIER IN WARTIME MISSISSIPPI, HUNGRY TO LAUNCH HIMSELF IN LIFE, LETTERS, AND LOVE
After a month at a Texas boot camp, Johnny Alger, a young draftee in the US army during World War II, heads to the University of Mississippi for specialized training. There he falls hard for a local co-ed, whose family has been rocked by a devastating fire in a Natchez nightclub.
Douglas Babington anchors his narrative solidly in wartime America, folding into this beautifully written novel actual letters written by his uncle, the model for Johnny Alger. Bivouac Prayers is the story of young lovers wracked by dark circumstance and mutual awareness of time running out.
“I have said it before and I will say it again. This is fantastic. I have read Bivouac Prayers through with deep pleasure twice now. I kept asking, Did this really happen? Was it really like that? That’s how compelling and convincing it is.”
~Ian Coutts, winner of the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence for D-Day: The Greatest Invasion
NEWS FROM THE RECENT QUAKE
(Alfeios Books 2015)
The inspiration for these poems is the unforgettable Giorgos Michalopoulos, my teacher of Modern Greek in 1979 and 1980. We would meet once a week at his apartment in downtown Thessaloniki, discussing literature and drinking coffee. At the time Giorgos was retired, following a successful career as both a teacher and school administrator in Irakleia Serron, Edessa, and finally at the Experimental School at the University of Thessaloniki. After being dismissed by the military junta, he was reinstated following the political changeover and finished his career at Anatolia College. Following my return to Canada, I received letters from Giorgos over a period of many years. Now, three decades later, I have transposed the voice of those letters, along with their beautiful phrasing, to these twenty poems. As his niece explains, Giorgos Michalopoulos was “an exceptional philologist and pedagogue – a good-spirited man with a sense of humor. His students loved him, and he kept an unwavering eye on their lives and their personal development.” I too was one of those students. Giorgos was born in the environs of Smyrna, coming to Greece after the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922. But personal and political upheavals never succeeded in breaking his spirit. A mentality of resistance and of hope characterized his life. I have tried to infuse these poems with that same mentality.
“A language that at moments resonates with a more distant Greece . . . and at the same time describes conditions and situations that could not be more contemporary for Greece. This combination is extraordinary!”
“Babington’s language is frugal and muted, without lyrical flights of fancy. This has to do with the poems’ bare, grounded speech, akin to prosaic narration, yet always with an internal rhythm. With such a delivery, the verses, despite their dramatic nature, convey a charming sense of calm. From the style and language of these poems — but also from their content — we are able to draw a rare aesthetic, as well as spiritual, pleasure.”
~Alexandra Bakonika, Το τραγικό και το λήμερι των αισθήσεων (Σαιξπηρικόν 2012)
TO CAROLYN: A SONG OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
(Les Editions Metropolis Bleu 2015)
In this moving collection, written under the pen name Dougie Shoals, Babington reflects on his sister, Carolyn, who battled mental illness for most of her life. Through small, pulsating memories and images, Shoals shows us rage, helplessness, laughter, music, and the ever-present winter. Through these poems we witness a young woman struggling to define a life on her own terms, as well as a brother carrying the legacy of her battle. Carolyn’s story will stay with you for some time.
“An imaginative, moving collection of poems . . . shot through with grief and rage, laughter and whimsy, music and the chilled language of winter.”
~ Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover
“A tender, touching work . . . the eye for physical detail is fine.”
~ Adrian Kelly, author of Down Sterling Road