Within the seventy one pages, Andrada delves (as she characteristically does) straight to the heart of what it means to be a young woman of diaspora, in a system bound to the prevailing iniquity of colonialism, which is ‘a structure, not an event’. In so doing, her poetry illustrates the attention, work and ‘care’ that urgently needs to be taken at a personal and structural level to avoid perpetuating this juggernaut of harm. Interspersed with poems that at once depict crisis and inspire bravery,
Poetic truth is as open to interpretation as the movements of the planets. We add our own perceptions and perturbations which are subject to the fragmentations of an ultimately unknowable universe. Seaton accepts this and continues on his international travels with a universal perspective. He is now inter-galactic in his observations, pulling us out into the cosmos from our earth-tethered and more insular points of view. As a fully integrated inhabitant of the world, he has the weight of history in his pocket and cosmic, unbounded access. He seeks not to answer questions but to keep asking them.
The book has an eco-poetic quality, immersed in nature which is both subject and object – not as something ‘other’ but as an inherent part of the same life. The ocean where the “sea mist rolls/and the tide folds in” is a critical part of this book, but other habitats too—the forest with its spiders and caterpillars or the city streets with cockatoos and miscreants. From a raindrop to the universe, the work moves through the micro to the macro and as it becomes clear that these are part of a single, unified system
Beyond That Hill I Gather is like a Rorschach Test where readers can interpret the poetry from their own psyche point of view. Is his poetry sometimes enigmatic? Yes, it is, and also it is rich in musicality, imagination and imagery. Kingsman also creates characters or interpret and represents real ones.
Farris both hides behind a mask and doesn’t. As any poetry creates a mask that both conceals and reveals, she gives readers poetic glimpses behind her mask with tight, lyrical lines. Farris controls the lens that we will look through to get to know her poetry and her personal medical journey. She gives readers an opportunity to see but not dwell upon the upheaval thrust on her life by interactions with medical staff, her husband, and the public.
Sparring Partners is only as much about boxing as Moby-Dick is about whaling. Like any true work of art, it’s about life, its fleeting glory, its many sadnesses, its long decline, and finally its inevitable disappearance. In the end it’s about accepting that we all fall and break apart, and as such, it’s a terrific read, well worth your time.
Saunier’s skills as a poet are showcased throughout this collection, but she works deftly and quietly, never browbeating the reader. A first read allows a simple pleasure in the words; it is upon a second and third read that nuanced layers unfold. For example, “Dirt Smart” begins with the lines, “You have to eat a peck of dirt / before you die, my grandma said. / I worried. Do I have to?” The poem continues with a description of the grandmother’s hard scrabble childhood in the tobacco fields “dug deep with labor, slaughter / and someone’s finger weighting every scale, / the way most land accumulation’s won.”
In Failure Lyrics, she seems to resonate with the words of Browning’s failed lover who sighed to say, “Fail I alone in words and deeds/ Why, all men strive, but who succeeds?” Adamant defiance, compulsive self-acceptance, a foray into the world of failures much as a bastion dreaded by all, loved[!] by few, very few! How can one fall in love with failure? It may irk us to see the successful folks around but can anyone be complacent with failure, let alone come to terms with it considerably? Perhaps, therein lies the secret of Darling’s powerful, highly experimental verses.
With irony and compassion, Tishani Doshi takes on so many of the calamities of our modern world in this truly comprehensive collection. From the treatment of immigrants and women to the pandemic, climate change and political tyranny, she aims her words at the injustices and tragedies that sometimes seem to overwhelm us. But through her humor and wisdom she offers a tentative, fragile vision of a redemption available to all of us, an attitude we can all adopt.
As with all of Anne Casey’s work, the poems in the light we cannot see contain a deep underlying humanism that comes through every poem. Perhaps this is the light we cannot see – a rich illumination more felt than seen, providing hope through the many threads of grief that connect the poems in this collection. Many of the poems are inspired by Casey’s Irish heritage, shot through with Gaelic motifs that link the poems, from a brilliant coupling of “The Second Coming” by WB Yeats and the Coronavirus to a plait or DNA-shaped prayer to Celtic goddess Brigid.