“Jim Wilde is a legendary figure at Time. ‘Wilde lives up to his name,’ said Time senior editor Howard Chua-Eoan in a 1996 publetter, “‘he’s the quintessential gonzo reporter.’”
In James Wilde’s words:
“Canadian, I was Time’s bad boy for nearly 41 years, starting as a stringer in Vietnam in 1958. I retired in Istanbul in 2000 after many wars, from bun fights in 1950’s Indochina to the 1991 Gulf War and the Kurdish insurgency.
I posed as a mad monk, while covering the fall of Ceausescu in 1989, sprinkling holy water at trigger happy Securitat roadblocks.
I covered the pandemic famines of Africa, walking through a silent Ethiopian valley where over 10,000 lay dying. Wars, genocides, AIDS and magic were my daily bread.
I poured dust on my head for five days to gain audience with the Nail of the Universe, Moro Nabe, the Supreme Emperor of the Mossi. I turned 60 during a three-month walkabout in the Congo rain forest seeking pygmies without pants – I found them. They had never seen a white man, and I was so beat up they thought I was a sick gorilla.
Tours of American maximum security prisons culminated in the Gary Gillmore execution circus. My words on being strapped for execution into “Ole Smokey,” the electric chair that fried the Rosenburgs, were featured on the1983 Time cover on capital punishment a first.”
After spending thirty-two years tracking stories across the world as a journalist for Time magazine, Wilde turns his eye for engaging detail to poetry in this eighty-two poem debut. At Time he reported on conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq, and also wrote in-depth stories about crime and the death penalty in the U.S. Now, in his poems, Wilde demonstrates his familiarity with the life’s horror and whimsy, fusing a world-weary tone with a childlike fascination with word play and animal imagery. “Cat and Mouse,” for instance, marries dark, violent language to cartoon-like visions of armies of cats and mice doing battle. Wilde’s work is most successful, however, when it takes on a quieter, elegiac quality, as in “The Funeral” in which the poet reflects on how his recently deceased friend would be most at home “haunting his old country kitchen/ Dispensing wry Socratic wisdom/ With chain smoking hyena coughing.” Moments like this provide a moving and intimate glimpse into a thoroughly lived life.