MWC Press, the publishing imprint of the Midwest Writing Center, is honored to announce the publication of My Cancer Chronicle, the final book of poems from the former Quad City Poet Laureate and long-time Davenport Central High School teacher Richard “Dick” Stahl (1939-2020).
MWC Press is working with Stahl’s family to bring this harrowing and powerful lyric narrative that documents his cancer experience, from initial diagnosis to the dictating of the final two poems to his family, sharing his experience with cancer as a means to provide insight, solace, and comfort to everyone who have gone/are going through that journey, and to those who help them along. Beyond being a strong collection of poems by an all-time great local author, it will also serve to support those going through similar experiences.
The book will be released at a special event on June 12 (time TBA) at Wallenberg Hall, Augustana College, which will feature friends of Stahl’s reading poems and sharing reminiscences about his life. Copies can be pre-ordered now through the MWC Press online bookstore; contact the Press regarding bulk or consignment orders, or bulk orders for book discussion groups, classrooms, etc. for shipping info and group/educational discounts: firstname.lastname@example.org | 309-732-7330
This book is made possible thanks to the support of the Stahl Family, the Scott County Regional Authority, the Poetry Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
About the Author:
Richard “Dick” Stahl (1939-2020) is the author of four books of poems: After the Milk Route (1988) and Under the Green Tree Hotel (1996), both published by Augustana College’s East Hall Press; Mr. Farnam’s Guests (2004, MWC Press); and Bluffing (2016, Riverwise, Inc.), and his poems have been widely published, receiving many awards and honors. A graduate of Augustana College (B.A.), the University of Iowa (M.A.), and Western Illinois University (Ed.S.), he taught English at Central High School for 34.5 years, retiring in 2001. He served as Quad City Arts’ First Poet Laureate from September 2001 to September 2003. In 2013, he was inducted into the Davenport High School/Central High School Hall of Honor which recognizes distinguished alumni. He is survived by his wife Helen, his three children (Rita, Randy, and Renee), and five grandchildren.
Praise for My Cancer Chronicle:
Quad City Poet Laureate Dick Stahl’s My Cancer Chronicle bids us accompany him on an intimate journey beginning with the diagnosis of “A Red Dot” on his nose. He looks closely; he tells the truth. There is pain and gratitude, memories and love—all countless “symbolic gifts” forming “what we all aspire to—a better life.” -Paul Olsen, Retired Professor and Track and Field Coach, Augustana College
…[Stahl’s] voice amplifies the incredible power of the spoken and written word to move people and make connections. This collection of poetry artfully takes the reader on a journey, his journey fighting cancer, one that is beautiful, relatable, and ultimately inspiring in the face of the intense challenges faced by cancer patients, their loved ones, and those who care for them. -Brian Baxter, Executive Director, Quad City Symphony Orchestra
In this, his last collection of poems, Dick Stahl captures the ebb and flow of the human condition. Fighting his lethal cancer, he smiles at a white-checkered tablecloth that “looks healthy” or waves at the Milky Way or at a monitor Helen and he named “Charlie”. While he soberly knows the grains of sand are falling as they echo loudly in his ears, he contemplates the radioactive beads making a beeline to his liver. He looks headlong into the demon and expresses his condition with beauty, faith and grace. -Dale G. Haake, attorney and former Poet Laureate of the Quad Cities
Cancer stories can make grim reading. But not this one. Dick Stahl’s My Cancer Chronicle forms a sprightly valediction, not an elegy. Honest without self-pity, optimistic without sentimentality, courageous without bravado, these richly-detailed poems give us “sharper eyes” to discover joy interwoven with pain. The “quick pen” Stahl had hoped for inspires us to celebrate life, love, and the power of words to heal what is beyond curing. -Ann Boaden, author of Light and Leaven: Women Who Shaped Augustana’s First Century
Dick Stahl’s death to cancer was a severe loss, but the poetic process he made from early detection, through stages of treatment, moments of grace, to final dictation, keep his spirit alive and with us. His refuge from pain in poetry is both testament and memorial; a final gift to his friends and admirers. -Don Wooten, WVIK Radio Host and Columnist
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