Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, June 15, 1998

"Dancing the Waves and Other Poems"
This photograph of spinner dolphins and other underwater
shots by Wayne Levin deepen the impact of Curry's poems.

Curry’s poems sing
with grace, power of
riding the waves

By Greg Ambrose
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Poetry seems to be the perfect medium for expressing the ineffable, for communicating the seen and the unseen spirit of wave riding that becomes so clumsy in prose and conversation.

I can only imagine what it must be like to take an English class from Steven Curry. But if his lectures are unlike his poems, then his University of Hawaii students will delight to discover another side of their professor by reading "Dancing the Waves."

Dancing the Waves and Other Poems: By Steven Curry, 68 pages, Anoai Press, $10.95

To put readers in a meditative mindset, Curry lets them ponder an epigram by the Sufi mystic Rumi at the start of each poem.

Then Curry takes over, and successfully shows in nonrhyming verse that surfing is both a strenuous physical endeavor as well as an activity of the soul.

He breathes deeply of Hawaii's saltwater-and- flower-perfumed tropical air, then exhales images of the moon rising over Diamond Head, waves coursing through the darkness, the thrill of riding those waves on a board or with just a pair of swim fins and discovering oneself along the way.

Curry's poetry is given a thought-provoking emotional counterpoint and complement with the use Wayne Levin's startling underwater photographs.

It's the perfect marriage of two different mediums with similar styles that provide new perspectives on the ocean, which always presents a different face to those insightful enough to look past the obvious and peer beneath the surface.

The contemporary, commercialized cliche informs us that "only a surfer knows the feeling," but Curry gives everyone a chance to feel what it's like:

"Sometimes, when you're positioned just right and gliding,

inside the wave's curl, side-slipping through all

of the innocence there ever was or ever will be,

You feel you could ride forever, dissolve in the unmaking sea."

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