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Book Review: “Nature’s Pride: Beauty & Words” by Brian Wayne Maki

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Nature’s Pride: Beauty & Words by Brian Wayne MakiA picture is worth a thousand words, but what picture or poem can fully capture the beauty of Nature? As impossible as such an endeavor may be, author Brian Wayne Maki has made the effort, and the result is his heartfelt poetry collection Nature’s Pride: Beauty & Words.

The book is filled with poems on all aspects of Nature, including moments when Nature is still and at rest, and many poems about the poet or observer, presumably Maki, watching Nature as it changes and how Nature provides a moment of realization, an epiphany about life, or just a reason to feel content. From a shoreline he visits when he needs guidance to a silent meadow that invites creativity and sunsets that inspire, Maki covers all aspects of Nature and man’s relationship with it. In addition, he has selected some stunning photographs taken by Sue Ballreich, a native of Upper Michigan like Maki. Ballreich’s images include deer in winter, the Lake Superior shoreline, chipmunks, sunsets, forests, beaches, and several other subjects.

I especially like the book’s title poem, “Nature’s Pride,” and its connection to America. In one of the stanzas, Maki writes:

There’s a sense of it everywhere
A true sense of America’s past
Across the highest rocky mountain
Over fields, streams, and clear lakes
Something speaks loud and true
It can only be — Nature’s Pride.

These lines resonate with me because while America is a concept, a place name given to this land, but before it was ever dreamt of, Nature ruled what is now this great country of ours, and so many of our greatest patriotic songs speak of the beauty of our land. When we think of America, we might think of history, we might think of our country being a superpower, but we should also think of its incredible beauty and how it awes and inspires us, causing each year as many or more people to visit beautiful scenic places like Yellowstone Park and Upper Michigan, as much as big cities or amusement parks.

Another poem I really enjoyed in this book was “Last Breath” about a man close to death, but not yet ready to go. He knows the angels are waiting, but he says, “Well, let them wait a while longer/Give me these last few hours.” Then as he reviews his life, he realizes “I gave everything—in spirit and effort/My soul flows over every mountain,” a sign of his connection to Nature and how it has inspired the beauty and wonder of his life.

Of course, there are poems about the seasons changing. In “Nature’s Spirit,” Maki describes these transitions between seasons, stating:

The day may be damp and gloomy
But Nature’s spirit climbs higher

Expressing color in everything
The land is alive with emotions.

Beyond beauty, Nature inspires Maki to return to his true self. In “As I Walk,” he states:

As I walk in the evening hour
This time brings me to my senses —
Closer to Nature, life, and death
The night fulfills my curious ways.

Finally, perhaps my favorite poem is “Little Shore” because as Maki says:

Everything happens on a little shore
Just standing there and observing life
Another timely event follows its calling
Greatness lives in the tiniest of details.

In other words, even the smallest things are magical. That theme, beyond just writing about Nature, is something I’ve come to appreciate about Maki’s poems in this and his earlier volumes. He finds beauty in everything, and he is appreciative of the magic he finds when he takes time to pause and notice things. It’s a rare gift and discipline he has when so many other people are too busy to stop and notice all the wonder and beauty around them. It’s a gift I envy him having — a true gift Nature has granted him.

For more information about Brian Wayne Maki and Nature’s Pride: Beauty & Words, visit the author’s website.

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