We exchanged intense gazes just before I picked up some sriracha. Spicy. I was jealous of the attention you were giving the ingredients on your cereal boxes.
The Silence Before the Whisper Comes, a book of poetry by Bruce Kauffman is a
profound love letter on the nature of silence and being. Poet Kauffman is active
in the arts community of Kingston, Ontario, hosting an open stage at the Artel
and a radio program on CFRC, he is also a writer and editor. This is the third
book of poetry by Bruce Kauffman that I have reviewed.
In the preface to the work, the Poet describes himself as the conduit of Muse or Muses within silence and the journey of searching for the softness of its edge. Influences of the Beat Poets play inside short, quiet lines. However, in this book of poems, as the lines travel to the center of the page and sometimes move in unconventional ways, the carriage edge seems soft but within wordscapes of staccato rain. Also, with the influence of ee cummings, the style and not only the lack of capitalization, but the total lack of punctuation, perhaps in quiet protest.
This poetry embraces the sacred, enigmatic and beautiful, nature images include the sky, trees and rain amongst others. Yet, as much as the poetry uses these images the poems are not in and of themselves these things, to this Writer the poetry is about the space between, the breath of possessing silences. As in the poem, all – “that which has/ always been/ coming into this/ moment waiting/ seeping/ through hollow cracks/ in an open sky and/ yes, today,/ all that there is/ whispers.”
And late last night:
“the full moon
its colour atop
the eastern shore
of lake Ontario
a lone grey owl
against the evening
across the line
of newly risen
casting its shadow
through my window
opening a space
in the air
the maker of dreams
a space in the darkness
with what comes”
One of the recurring themes within the poetry is that of language. The idea of brokenness and lost communication, the rewriting of language, perhaps the rewriting of a lost love affair.
An excerpt from forest:
“there was a time
you and i walked
and you took my hand
with the other
to each new tree
and told me
what they were called
and i knew
that even as you told me
i would forget their names
on the path
from that language
and the words
given for them washed off
with the next
is not part
and we walking
in the mist and
a silence coming
echoing its fullness
off the back
mist falling through
in the shadow
in the gentle rain
in the sunlight
what is it that speaks
with such clarity
in this place
The theme of a lost love, like a background thread, surfaces in the poem other side.
“ you who still
do not know
how many times
i have watched a door open
expecting to see
your face come through
the doors open
the doors close
to no one
The poetry is quiet and full of mystery, brilliant and fading to black, almost reminiscent of Haiku and the Asian sensibility. And this shadow dance of breath and rain I suspect, exists within the landscape of the white cultural diaspora. The poetry holds you and whispers you to sleep in the quiet of a long winter’s night. The Silence Before the Whisper Comes, another great poetry read from Bruce Kauffman.
Available @ Hidden Book Press and Amazon.ca.
A wild, passionate l’embrasure, a doorway on the story of love with fantastical
images that flow into mythologies. In the background plays, “Suzanne” by Leonard
Cohen, “ While Suzanne holds the mirror. And you want to travel with her And you
want to travel blind And you know that you can trust her For she's touched your
perfect body with her mind.” This is Melinda Cochrane’s fourth book of poetry
and the third book of poetry I have reviewed by her.
The style is an excellent example of contemporary poetry, with elements of the post-moderns and particularly the Beat Poets.
“finally at your door,
no words taken,
sharing of eyes,
stories of history,
one of pain,
one of love,
one of passion,
one of lies,
one of one,
none of none,
it was written by
two, the us,
if only it
with the meeting of
the lovers, palpable”
As if dreams within dreams, the writing sometimes starts at halfway across the page and continues coming back to the hard edge only when someone else is speaking or when coming into a new dreamscape. The capitalization is inconsistent, the poem starts with a small letter, about three quarters through the work some of the beginnings of lines are capitalized for a length, there are many commas and in its entire ends with a period, as if in protest.
This poem is full of torrent images of the sorrow and beauty of love, this writer calls the “china blue painting” images. The juxtaposition of great beauty with hidden violence, the psychology that lives on the interior of love and politics in North America. “you loved for youth’s fragrance, pretty/ face, a country twang, little/ white blouse, painted hands”; “the flour from pies fall/ from a woman too old to/ tell stories/ about lovers stealing/ pennies from a purse,/ wearing old shoes”; “I slept well every night/ until I spoke the truth,/ pressing the red roses/ in between the pages/ of my published books,/ smearing reds, pinks,/ through them”. Mixed with this fantastical imagery is the sexual tension and something like “Ophelia syndrome”, lost loves of the past, fears for the future, leaving tracings in poetry. “never love a man,/ instead lend one pearl cut from your throat,/ one pearl, broken from/ a string he will buy you/ swallow them all,/ hold one in your mouth,/ don’t let it go,/ keep it there,/ kiss him with it,/ love him with it,/ a man will love the pearls,/ offer the pearl on lips of silken/ satin, then a man will/ love the/ pearl he feels, not the/ sights he may/ see, for he can never resist.”
In the entangled heat of love, the past/present/future of love flows into mythologies. “but dancing in/ daylight,/ white/ nightdress,/ a field of/ yellow flowers/ leaving traces/ on her bare/ feet, she spots/ his horse/ the stallion/ the horse/ resisting the/ saddle, the/ rider resisting/ it equally,/ dancing in/ daylight/ her hands out/ to catch the/ spectrum/ of rainbows/ falling on her” “dances/ in the buttercups,/ dances/ in the/ buttercups,/ “my buttercup,” he/ whispered, “my buttercup/ dancing,”” the ideal of passion fulfilled.
Juxtaposed with the story of
“an old woman,
aged with the angers of rigid rules
of a virgin bride,
a virgin bride to be honoured
for the books to call it
sanctioned in the eyes of tradition,
but the old woman whose husband sailed off
to fight wars, communist, any war the army
wanted, slept in tightly with legs wrapped and
around sailors, she and only the townspeople
a shotgun would have met her skull,
the pearls around her neck reminding her of the
last vow of stopping for her father's father, the
as if this story illustrates the passion, and the conflicts/conjectures of love. As if women exist (or die) within acceptable and unacceptable delimitors of sexual behaviour.
Poet Cochrane raises questions of love, some of them eternal (as from the time of Hamlet and Ophelia in Shakespeare) and others that have culminated with the suffering of the Industrialized Society where the peace of the Holy Spirit ways have been abrogated. “so how does a woman love a man,/ how does she love a man,/ it doesn’t mean he’s going to stay,/ lie with you, lay with you,/ be the long road down to/ meet the angels who walk around you,/ how does a woman love a man/ bend in closer lady,/ the wise one said,/ you can’t love a man,/ he must love you.”
A theme through the storyline of the poem is the idea of the mirror, “it was not me, me, not me,/ it hard-hearted me,/ looking in the mirror,/ who is she,/ marching one/ step to the me/ of me, you,/ desires, and still/ the lines of red/ drawn over my/ lips have no/ effect on my/ inner worth,/ the woman- a cheater,/ she’s still birth.”
Who is watching, who is judging, how the patriarchy has trouble with the concept of women, as “lady” or as “whore”, as the broken places of the heart leads to violent recriminations and the judgment of value/poverty, reflected back as a violence of self-esteem issues and a mark upon the soul. And the hypocrisy of a system that often cheapens women, with hidden agendas, hidden knowledge leaving few alternatives for the peace of a longterm happy covenant marriage. “all the beautiful smoke rings of/ desire, left in night and last only/ in the morning,/ dimes, dollars/ and dead end flowers,/ Not defining me any longer/ as a whore,/ Whore,/ Whore,/ Whore,/ Whore,/ and whore” and ““Once, twice, three times a lady,”/ but I’d have to stop writing,/ prove you my/ fiction didn’t matter.”
A powerful, wild and passionate read, My Lips Hold the Red and Pinks: A Long Poem by Melinda Cochrane.
Available @ Melinda Cochrane International and Amazon.ca.
Dark Horse Pictures is the first Poetry Chapbook by Andy Hopkins a
Poet/Teacher/Musician active on the culture scene of Carlisle, U.K. Originally
the text was published by Selkirk Lapwing Press.
The Chapbook is a compilation of 20 poems, a surreal intellect inside a suspended theater of the mind, the poetry writes within a certain lyricism, dwells in the modernist school yet with little punctuation and capitalization, is on occasion experimental and always riveting. There are occasional Neoclassical references as in When it is winter in the soul place - “water chatters water words to moss ditch pool/bears the meniscus weight of heaven, like Atlas” and in Levee/Burgh-by-lands – “learn as the equal and opposite reaction crashes on the gates of Rome; Caesars/no invasion lasts.” As well as nature imagery, water, trees, forests, moss, saltmarsh, land and sea. When it is winter in the soul place – “firs loom/wind has no influence/listen/listen to the bronchia of forest”. One of the first poems is Yes Michael No Michael, a very interesting/humorous one way conversation of thoughts and speech between a teacher and his student on a busy day, “your mum won’t be coming to parents evening; yes, I will/spend an hour on your report, trying to phrase ‘vindictively ignorant’ into empowering/standard English. No, I don’t mind that you can’t stand me; yes, I hear everything/No.”
This writer was especially taken by the two experimental poems, Unspectacular Station Revelation and Allonby Tidal Marks. These 2 poems are considered at once brilliant and an experiment in form. Allonby Tidal Marks plays with language and presentation as the words are squiggly lines going down the page in 4 columns. When the lines are read, the poem unfolds as ruminations of waves on a beach, disjointed free association as a pictorial wave. Unspectacular Station Revelation is 3 repeated paragraphs, the last one listing citations for words. As you look up the citations the story of a missed date with a girlfriend unfolds, captivating the imagination.
The poem Dark Horse Pictures presents a theatre image of celluloid and memory, a description of anonymity “I look just like a dark horse picture/Black and then white and then gone/Black and then white and then/Black and then white and then gone.”
evil is a study in the unconscious raising questions.
The last four poems Parakalo, on a Kefallonian Beach, Unfrogs/Prefrogs, New Years’ Eve and What God Said to Me on Cross Fell seem like double entendre, a dance perhaps with someone considering a love affair, a series I call “a prayer to a goddess”, as the gentleman makes excuses for his absence and seems to be caught in a crux of dilemma that appears at once impossible and yet is not. In “Parakalo, on a Kefallonian Beach” - “I did not want to come./You could take me over a rock like a slave. Or/I could pull you out of the water/onto the same hot rock, like a lava goddess, scintillating/sacrificially real.” And further in “What God Said to Me on Cross Fell” – “And I did stop to listen, whilst out walking, by the cross/against the sky./And the fell was empty. And I did try to hear. Even the/radar turned to hear.” As if some struggle with conscience and God, the tortured ruminations of the Poet looks to the universe for answers, this Writer says “to thine own heart be true”. A beautiful poetic treatise with brilliant use of language and innovations of the poetic form, Dark Horse Pictures by Andy Hopkins.
Available at OBOOKO and Philistine Press.
An exciting Poetry Chapbook, avant-garde poetry bangs in the dance. Lary
Timewell finds himself in Vancouver after living for 25 years in Fukushima. He
is one of the co-founders and publisher of Tsunami Editions press, currently
publishing through the venture obvious epiphanies press.
The Poetry Chapbook begins with a citation by Rosemary Waldrop, “If we could just go on walking through these woods” sets the stage for high camp and trepidation in a story of love lost. A new treatise on the twisted cultural landscape, North America.
This poetry is blow speak. Bullet line delivery within a poetic prose type style, it is a new post-modern twist on poetic form. Inconsistent capitalization and punctuation in a violent milieu that protests, tones employed as loss weaves the story of love lost/conflicted love with the love of poetry that saves. The two themes are interwoven in the theater of the absurd that includes inane humour mixed with masculine imagery/energy not unlike someone shouting at a wall. “I-vow-my troth recurring dream/hung on for dear laugh, went eventually/belly dancing out of the room, much to the dismay of/poets in their/heated nests”; “waiting in the envelope of the cave/ like chloroformed squirrel, ecstatic”; “the name of your country is not America. Please/ to be stopping sending Coco-Puffs to Rumania”; “the sky swallowing the garage, sap” and “just more earthworms slathered in agnostic marmalade; the chanting”.
Juxtaposed with the theme of poetry/salvation is the theme of love lost and/or conflicted love, “out on the highway, toss milky sandals/ from the salmon-pink bedspread where “I”/ loves “you” and even the far blue/ hills understand it is only a dream” and “I’m just another/ born loser in/ an ordinary act/ of desperation/ the awkward/ decisive punch/ line having/ some fun at/ the expense of/ the expansive/ (homesick or assimilated)/ how/ now”.
Interspersed throughout the long poem the word Poetry appears at the left hand margin with a series of lines begun by a colon.
“Poetry : throat-red staccato under stucco archway
: bickering microbes in the blood
: mold-speckled tent pitched in the topography of dream
: empathic accidents out to the radius of the real world
: gauge of the exchange
: the electronic distance between speech & song
: the asynchronous knowledge of clues that hold their breath
: the mannequin and his young brood
: shopping for subliminals in the general store
: gleaning the meaning of a depot along the highway
: the real landscape of a fictional street
: the sound a baby deity makes
: the oxygen of music out the open window
: the disappearing episode
: hands that make wings
: an echo losing insistence
: exhalation of the unthinkable
: baroque repertoire of the mimic in the mirror
: obituary vernacular of fastidious trivia“
In a celebration of the written form of poetry, “The path is the poem overgrown, each letter/ an illuminated leaf inscribed, living/ excursion of the swans one notices and stops,/ feeling an urge to be/ similarly taken away, lifted up into/ the sweet capsule of a paragraph/ of unselfconscious cloud. Ragged din, see/ and hear through walls of/ chacun a son gout thunder/ kicking out in knowledge and joy. Alas,“
In the play with language, the dislocated images that lends a punch drawn feel, the imaginative definitions of the word Poetry are an exhaustive constant celebration and not without angst. That poetry could be so evocative is at once spellbinding and full of light.
In the exploration of the defining poetry is the defining Poet. Reading good poetry is a wonderment, that often makes this Writer think in tangents about the relation of the Poet to their writing and the act of writing. How the education of the Poet, intellect and life experience interacts with the Poet’s soul essence, the rhythm of the soul and the Muse to produce fantastical works.
tones employed as loss, a study in absurdist poetry, lightening and light.
Available at above/ground press.