Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma will read from his first book-length collection of poems, “The Safety of Edges,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at Vashon Bookshop. The reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience and a book signing.
The book, said Pruiksma, is intended to appeal not only to other poets but also to those who don’t usually read poetry.
“Taken together, the poems form a kind of story, making connections between the past and the present, childhood and adulthood, what is here and what is there — all the edges of experience that offer their own paradoxical protection,” he said.
Pruiksma, who has lived on Vashon for 18 years, is an author, poet, translator and performer, who is perhaps best known on the island for blending poetry and magic in his frequent stage appearances and work as a roving entertainer at May Kitchen + Bar.
In November, Pruiksma also used magic, story and song in a world-premiere performance at Vashon Center for the Arts based on the famous story of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.” In August, he was a contributing writer at Vashon’s 14/48 new play festival, where playwrights were asked to write new plays in a single night, to be performed the following day. Ambitiously, Pruiskma contributed a musical.
His other books include “The First Leaves” and “Body and Earth: Notes from a Conversation,” which he wrote with the south Indian artist C. F. John. He has lived and worked in Tamil Nadu, India, and Oaxaca, Mexico.
“The Safety of Edges” was published last month by Marrowstone Press in Seattle, founded by the painter Galen Garwood.
“For Galen, publishing a book is a way of keeping gifts moving in the world,” Pruiskma said.
In addition to his literary and performance work, Pruiksma also serves as a language consultant for the Cozy Grammar series of online video courses. He will also speak at the Vashon Literary Conference in April and at the Cascadia Poetry Festival in May.
But the upcoming reading at the Vashon Bookshop has special significance.
“The bookshop really welcomed me when I first arrived on the island 18 years ago,” he said. “They hosted some of my first ‘Poet’s Magic’ performances, and every time a book of mine has been published, I’ve read from it there first.”
“The Safety of Edges” has received advance praise from noteworthy writers including Peter Weltner, the author of “The Light of the Sun Become Sea” and “Unbecoming Time,” who called the volume of poems “a work of a compassionate discreteness, a generous simplicity, in which the hours of life are not lost but found, somethings, ‘all of there in our hands.’”
Gustavo Esteva, the author of “Grassroots Postmodernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures,” also has lauded the book.
“Pruiksma’s mysterious magic is all here,” Esteva said. “But he also shares some hallucinatory insights, those that you can only get when you are a child and you wonder.”
After four days of rain
the light falls on green leaves
salal glowing brightly
almost from within
then fading with the sky
clouds moving in the leaves
not two things or one
but one moment unfolding
rain and sunlight and leaves
within it everything
within it without end
— Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma