Memoirs of a Witness Tree
Memoirs of a Witness Tree is Randal’s second collection of poetry and the first to be published through a traditional publisher. The poems in this collection were written between 2016 and 2020 and address a variety of topics. Many of these poems were published by online literary magazines first; these and subsequent appearances online have been indexed elsewhere on this site.
First Published: Kelsay Books, 2020
Best of the Best 2020 in Poetry according to Bookworm Reviews
Including “Humblest Apologies,” nominated for a Pushcart Prize, 2020
Randal Burd has produced what is easily one of the top five poetry books (in fact one of the top five English language books) of the year. He offers up a treasure trove of exquisitely crafted jewels unearthed from the vacuous wasteland of modern life. Each poem glistens perfectly with accessible language, sumptuous rhymes, and enchanting meter. The jewels are varied, coming in a variety of meaningful and relatable topics, from the Civil War to human rights in China to getting lost in a forest to being a father. The intricately inlaid and gilded, yet never gaudy, chest that brings them all together is a sincere grasp of beauty and a refreshing sense of decency that make this a work of perennial value. Bravo, Mr. Burd!
— Evan Mantyk, President of The Society of Classical Poets
Memoirs of a Witness Tree is emotionally resonant in its quiet simplicity. It is evocative, revealing the best of yearning, despair, acceptance, deep love of family and nostalgia. It asks righteous questions. It delves into metaphysical issues of death, conscience, heart and the meaning of life. It deals with death in its imminence and life in its eminence. Beautifully written: Burd has a strong sense of rhythm, a witty manner of rhyming and an innate sense of what is required of the sonnet form – he modernizes, yet remains classical, a high achievement and an excellent read.
— Hayley Ann Solomon, author of Celestial Promise and Wishbinder
In this impressive collection, Formalist poet Randal A. Burd Jr. presents poems that speak to an array of emotional experiences and to every taste. Of course, what touches one will not touch another; what matters to one will be a triviality to the next. The poet only begins the poem; the reader, with his reading, finishes it. Among my personal favorites are “Out of Mind,” “A Mended Heart,” “Echoes of Yesterday,” and “Reflection.” I recommend this collection.
— Harvey Stanbrough, founding editor of The Raintown Review
“To the extent that Burd can be called Frostian, it is more in the sense of the less familiar Frost than the beloved, folksy version of the man that one deduces not just from oversimplified interpretations of his poems, but in his pictures: holding an axe in winter, sitting on a pile of stones in a field, etc…. In “Lost” [for example], Burd seems to be flipping the beloved Frost on his head. He explores the famous themes of isolation, extinction, and going astray in a setting and casual style familiar to readers of Classic Frost, but with the severity of Bleak Frost—while managing to blend this with a wit that is all Burd’s.”
— Andrew Benson Brown, The Society of Classical Poets (read the full review here)
“The sensuous pleasure of experiencing sound, rhythm and repetition is not limited to listening to music. Randal Burd, in Memoirs of a Witness Tree, reminds us that our most profound emotions can be richly and memorably expressed—and experienced—when language is presented through the classical poetical devices of rhyme and meter.”
— Diane Elayne Dees, The Poetry Café (read the full review here)
“Some poets prefer to write in metaphor and hide poetry’s real meaning by abstract description, allusion, and imagery that only hints at the real meaning. Others prefer to be more concrete. The meaning is conveyed through the simple description with no hidden theme. With his book of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, Randal A. Burd Jr. is the latter.
Burd’s poems paint verbal pictures through words and form. He captures various subjects such as youth, love, friendship, emotion, aging, and death in ways that even Readers who aren’t regular poetry lovers will read and understand. These are experiences that many can relate to and follow.”
— Julie Sara Porter, Bookworm Reviews (read the full review here)
“As the wisest of men once pointed out, there is nothing new under the sun, and yet a good poet can help us see the never-changing with fresh eyes and renewed appreciation…. Burd has impressive range as a poet.”
— Michael R. Burch, The Hypertexts (read the full review here)
Other Media Mentions
“Alumni bookshelf: Fall 2021,” Show Me Mizzou, August 19, 2021, accessed February 8, 2022
“Randal Burd’s ‘Armed With Imagination’ and ‘Overthrown’ and ‘We Siblings Three’ are #229, #230, and #231 in the never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM,” Chris Rice Cooper Blog, January 10, 2021, accessed March 5, 2021
‘Nine Cool Things on a Tuesday‘ Jama’s Alphabet Soup, March 2, 2021, accessed March 5, 2021