Born and reared in Spokane Thomas Aslin has lived nearly his entire life in the Pacific Northwest. Aslin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Washington and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana where he studied with the late Richard Hugo, Madeline DeFrees and William Kittredge.
Though he taught for more than ten years at several secondary schools and at a number of community colleges, Tom recently retired from driving municipal buses in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington. In author’s notes Philip Levine often referred to having worked a series of stupid jobs before finally teaching. Aslin can only say that: “Philip Levine, that lucky man, never drove a municipal bus.”
Tom has published poems in magazines as varied as Artful Dodge, INTRO 12, and Natural Bridge, and has new work forthcoming in The Georgia Review. Besides this Aslin has published two collections: a chapbook entitled Sweet Smoke from Red Wing Press in West Sacramento, California and the second edition of a full-length collection entitled A Moon Over Wings from Tebot Bach, Huntington Beach, California . The first edition of A Moon Over Wings (published by Clark City Press, Livingston, Montana) was a finalist for the 2009 Washington State Book Award in poetry.
Tom’s new book Moon Over Wings can be purchased at Tebot Bach’s website
Thomas Aslin has brought us a fine, sometimes heartbroken but more often celebratory sight of his days and the days of his people. And ours. Believe you me, his grandfather used to say. That’s what I want to say. Believe you me. A Moon Over Wings lights up the night. Just a splendid book.
I can’t think when I’ve read a collection that so persistently embodies Faulkner’s dictum that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Thomas Aslin’s, A Moon Over Wings is saturated with elegy—these often seem the meditations of a solitary survivor. But the poems are driven by a more dynamic need as well: to reassess old motives, old understandings, old grievances, to keep the conversation from ending—most especially the one between a son and his difficult father. A Moon Over Wings is loaded with real-world detail and imagery of startling power—for example, the father’s body, seen for the final time, “still as river rock under clear water.” But what I most admire is how Aslin, like his teacher and friend, Northwest poet Richard Hugo, can transmute these facts of personal history into a more mysterious music, which rises, often, to the level of incantation.
—David Long, author of The Inhabited World
Like the Eastern poets of Li Po and Tu Fu, or the Western poets of Richard Hugo and James Welch, in Tom Aslin’s work the natural world reflects inner lives. Crows on wires; tulip beds and windborne snow; apple trees and elk; whiskey, and strawberries. The beauty and bright pain of life are on full display in this collection, as is the knowledge that death awaits, and that the “tenuous light” in-between is the here, and the now, full of “stories of blue snow and feral wings.” “I lift the lid from a small, wood box,” the narrator says, in “Parents in a Box in a Drawer.” And like the narrator in that poem, Aslin in this collection lifts the lid of what it means to live in the inland Pacific Northwest, admitting “how difficult it is.” These essential poems are rooted in the earth, in work, and ultimately in the poetic canon.
A Moon Over Wings is an attentive, loving book. It is nourishing and beautiful portraiture.
—Sandra McPherson, author of Expectation Days
A Moon Over Wings is a haunted, haunting examination of love as a blessing, love as a curse, the echoes of what’s been lost or left behind ringing with beautiful clarity. Aslin’s poems breathe on the page—intimate songs of memory and mercy and love.
Conversation Across Borders | A Review of “A Moon Over Wings”
Windfall Reading Series | November 2013