"The story of Rosenthal’s disappearance, and survival, after six days alone in the desert’s harsh September climate was a story a story that riveted Southern California’s attention – as well as the rest of the nation’s – in headlining newspaper and news stories. Like so many others, I anxiously followed the story of his disappearance and the efforts of searchers to find him before it was too late. In addition, as a lifelong, avid back-country Mojave Desert hiker and resident, I was all too aware of the many dangers he faced, especially from exposure and heat. I remember feeling incredibly relieved, and to be honest, surprised, that he had been found alive.
The story of how Rosenthal was lost, and found, in critical condition but alive, and soon on his way towards making a full recovery, is also a cathartic and transformational one, as rendered here in Desert Hat: Survival Poems in his own words. “The least I could do, after an experience like this, is write a decent book of poems,” he says. Desert Hat: Survival Poems is a unique desert book, even in a body of desert literature filled with life and death stories of those who have faced the southwestern desert’s hostilities.
Stories of getting lost, and barely surviving, are staples of the literature of this remotest and most little known of landscapes. For example, William Lewis Manly’s famous book Death Valley in ’49, which depicts the near-death experience of a party of pioneers who took a wrong turn and barely survived their desert crossing, to the heartbreaking short chapter in Edward Abbey’s celebrated memoir Desert Solitaire, which provides an intimate portrayal of the author’s near-death experience after barely escaping a slot canyon he got trapped in after taking a wrong turn while on a solitary hike.
Like these other desert books, Rosenthal’s poetry collection is an entry into another world, into a heightened world of self-reflection, of profound revelations, and spiritual enlightenment; his Mojave is a desert world personified and transformed into a universal place. Of the canyon walls he found himself surrounded by, he writes, “Those were friends/Stuck in quartz embraces/Veins of orange eyes smiled.” As he wandered and searched for his car, the desert landscape transformed into a place most extraordinary, leaving an indelible impression, as rendered in another poem: “Ten miles after that turn/The sky was making magic./Turning limbs to ghostly signs/Making a prickly pear look/Like a red shirted hiker.
These poems are the reader’s entry into the “other world” the author himself entered from the moment on a September day when he realized he was lost. In these highly imagistic poems, we are lead along on this most unusual of journeys, which is both a literal and mythopoetic one that can only be rendered by the Mojave’s mystical and labyrinthine landscape and through Rosenthal’s growing self-awareness and deepening connections with the intimacies of the desert’s private nuances, as seen through his eyes and experienced in his imagination during the time he was lost."
|Ed Rosenthal (a couple of years earlier)|
Reprinted from Inlandia Institute's blog: http://localauthors.pe.com/uncategorized/the-desert-hat-survival-poems-a-true-story-of-being-lost-and-found-in-joshua-tree/
The foreward to Ed Rosenthal's new book of poetry inspired by his misadventure in the Mojave Desert, was written by Ruth Nolan, Professor of English @ College of the Desert, California desert poet, writer, editor, conservationist & scholar. Ruth is the editor of No Place for a Puritan: the literature of CA's deserts (Heyday 2009), a critically acclaimed anthology. She is also an active member of desert conservation groups, and the literary force in the landscape of the desert. Her writings are on her blog, http://ruthnolan.blogspot.com