If Robert Burns is the farmer poet of Scotland, Dwight Droz is the farmer poet of the rural community of Scandia, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. My husband, who spent several of his growing-up summers working in Droz’s commercial garden, tells stories of rock-germinating fields, hearty farm-style dinners at noon, and chess games before returning to the furrows. It is only in the past decade or so that Droz (now over ninety) has been publishing his books of poetry and memoir, but it appears that he has been writing–and, at times, broadcasting–since childhood.
The Midnight Poet is aptly named; much of the material is autobiographical, granting a glimpse of the man behind the verse. Many of the poems are based on Droz’s personal experiences, and notes following a number of the entries document the circumstances under which they were written. Sketches by the author illustrate many of the poems. A section in the middle of the book appears in the (presumably) original hand lettering.
Some of the compositions, appropriately, convey a decidedly rural ethos. A number are nostalgic, but before attributing that to late-life sentimentality, readers should note that one of my favorites in this vein (“Mount Harrison”) was written when Droz was twelve. Some selections are of historical interest, such as “The Rationeers,” written in 1942. Some are whimsical (including another favorite, “Mountain Bouncin'”) and still others nonsensical, in the tradition of Lewis Caroll.
Those who feel poetry should rhyme will be gratified by Droz’s compositions; the urge to produce rhyme seems to drive him so relentlessly that even the few essays included in the collection are interspersed with it. I read the volume to my six-month-old daughter at bedtime, and I intend it as no insult to say that she frequently fell asleep to it. Droz’s collection will be of particular interest to readers of local history and small-press literature.
Click here for more about Droz and his books: Scandia Patch Press