Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Corpses of the Future - Lynn Crosbie (House of Anansi)

Today's book of poetry:
The Corpses of the Future.  Lynn Crosbie.  House of Anansi.  Toronto, Ontario.  2017.


Such tenderness amid so much sorrow.  Lynn Crosbie has done that most difficult of things, she has learned, as Maryse Holder insisted upon, to "give sorrow words."  The Corpses of the Future is bursting at the seams with stunning poem after exhilaratingly sad poem.  Crosbie is documenting the demise of her father as dementia drags him incrementally further away day by horrifying day.

Crosbie is singular in her pursuit of whatever dark truths lay ahead -- she is steadfast but lost in the memory of her fully functioning and much adored father.

Slainte Mhath

For David McAskill

The visits have taken on an orderliness that I imagine prison is like, odious and
conciliatory in its steadfast regimen.

What must it be like for him, his mind attacked like a painting altered
with swipes of turpentine, then left exposed.

There are fields of his childhood, alive with tiny raspberries, sharps sticks and
slowpoke turtles, bleeding into his hoodlum teens.

Did you actually rock around the whole clock, I ask him, when my sister suggests
we play his fifties record.

We rocked until the girls said they had to go, or we were too drunk, he says, and
remember vomiting at a party, spills of yellow and green.

A through line of parties with David, his partner in crimes, who visits this August
with a stack of bitter chocolate, and stories my father sits up and shares

Of a detested colleague whose plant Dave sprayed every morning with DDT until
the man wrenched the tended-to, maddening thing into the trash, spiking the
     earth with

A pencil that Dave began treating with paint remover: Nothing can grow in this!
the man despaired,

An open can of sardines left in a heating duct during another colleague's vacation;
hours billed to big steaks and tall beers:

He signs his letters with the Gaelic words for Cheers.

One day later, my father forgets that we were there, but he is desperate,
the heavy bear howls for the bars of chocolate.

He doesn't remember seeing me, but he never forgets who I am,
the most besieged of his platoon, and the most enduring: You're just like me,

He says, and my brother holds his head with infinite tenderness and shaves him,
and I lead him back to bed, in my mind I am lifting him again and he is holding on--

Like Anchises as we stagger through the burning city.

In the very centre of the painting we are untouched by ruin: we are five, furious
and suffering and madly in love.

...

It's a hell of a thing to see your father disappear in front of your eyes only to be replaced by a vulgar monster inhabiting his flesh.  Today's book of poetry has seen this movie from the front seat and it was crippling.  Crosbie has made it art.

This level of honesty could be considered reportage but the uber-talented Crosbie makes it all personal and universal with one sweep of her talented pen.  We survive this painful litany only because Crosbie leads us through.  We get to observe our worst parental fears writ large on someone else's sad canvas.

Elba

My father asked for peace and quiet for his birthday and for Christmas and Father's 
Day, every year.

I want to live like Napoleon, he said. Exiled in silence on my Elba.

In their early fifties, my parents moved to Curacao, one of the ABC islands, just
north of Venezuela.

He worked for some Dutchmen there, moving money around, and my mother
volunteered at an orphanage.

They went to church every Sunday: one Christmas Eve, my father asked my
sister and me to go to the early-morning Mass.

We declined and he offered us money. I'll give you fifty, no, one hundred guilders.
Has it come to this? he said.

They stayed for many years, and on our last family visit we sat at the beach and
watched the sun go down.

Dad disappeared and I went off to find him.

He was sitting in a rowboat, also watching the sun cannonball into the water, in a
great violent splash.

The boat was called the Elba, I noticed.

He had put his shoulder to his dreams. Dad, why won't you get better?

In Curacao, there are hundred of stray dogs, all of them big yellow curs--
fireworks are set off on every holiday,

Huge repeating rockets, poppers, sparklers and shells.

This terrifies the dogs and in the morning you drive the fast streets and keep
swerving,

There are so many dead dogs on the road, who ran there, out of their
minds with fear, only to be struck,

To be battered and ground into peace, then quiet.

...

Somehow, Lynn Crosbie forgive me, it seemed the right thing to do, so this morning during our production meeting I had Milo, our head tech, play Amy Winehouse's astonishing album Frank on the office speakers.  There is absolutely no correlation of narrative between Winehouse and Crosbie, but emotionally Winehouse strives for the same sort of dark clarity that Crosbie insists upon.  

Or maybe I just wanted/needed to break a little of the tender tension in the office.  Today's book of poetry couldn't help but notice the sudden run on phone calls to parents after this morning's read. 

Crosbie writes poems like dominoes, one as solidly constructed as the next, each one solid enough to stand on its own, each one a building block.  Her poetry machine punches these, fully formed, out like clockwork.  The Corpses of the Future comes in at a hefty 140+ pages and there's nary an unnecessary poem.

Lynn Crosbie poignantly goes where we all fear to be and does it with unflinching honesty.  The Corpses of the Future  isn't just a pained tribute to her father, it's a primer for the rest of us on how love overcomes pain.

For the Person Suffering

From dementia, it is traumatic to relive certain events over and over. As such, certain
topics should be avoided--

This is how I started lying to my father.

I read an article by a Dutch doctor, which instructed me never to say, No, Dad,
your mother has died,

To watch his face crumple in confusion and pain.

This spring, when he asked me about our bets on the horse race, I made up names
for the runners, and he added Hurry up Honeybun to the list:

One hundred on the nose! he said.

Later I would try to register the name, and get into an awkward, meretricious
conversation with a horsey sort located outside Leeds.

Today, tired as ever, I listened carefully to my father's story about the football
game.

He was taking me to see the Alouettes versus the Roughriders, but could I call
about the tickets?

Of course I can, I said.

I'm on this damn boat, he said, and I told him I would send Mom the information.

They think I have some illness, he said. Expialadocious.

I repeated the word, as though writing it down.

We've never been to a game before, I said, feeling winded from the little smacks to
my heart.

I want to take you, he said.

He and I are in a fall stadium, drinking spiked coffee as he explains the rules of
football.

We are wearing Als hooded sweaters and once in a while his arm presses against
mine and I double over in pain, reliving the very thought of my father.

Wanting to take me to a game.

...

Today's book of poetry had Milo go to the stacks and he came back with the following:  Miss Pamela's Mercy (1992), VillainElle (1994), Queen Rat (1998), Missing Children (2003) and Liar (2006).  Which reminds us that we are big fans of Lynn Crosbie here at Today's book of poetry but now realize we have some catching up to do on the Crosbie canon.  

The Corpses of the Future could be the crowning achievement of any excellent poetic career but Today's book of poetry is pretty sure Crosbie is just getting warmed up.  The Corpses of the Future will reverberate in the ear of every reader with aging parents, and that is most of us.

This book will be remembered.

Image result for lynn crosbie photo
Lynn Crosbie

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynn Crosbie was born in Montreal and is a cultural critic, author, and poet. A Ph.D. in English literature with a background in visual studies, she teaches at the University of Toronto and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her books (of poetry and prose) include Queen Rat, Dorothy L’Amour, and Liar. She is also the author of the controversial book, Paul’s Case, and most recently Life Is About Losing Everything and the Trillium Book Award-nominated novel Where Did You Sleep Last Night. She is a contributing editor at Fashion and a National Magazine Award winner who has written about sports, style, art, and music.

houseofanansi.com

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DISCLAIMERS

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Take Me Back - Chekwube O. Danladi (New-Generation African Poets - Akashic Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Take Me Back.  Chekwube O. Danladi.  Edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani.  New-Generation African Poets.  Akashic Books.  Brooklyn, New York.  2017.

“No one has a body that cannot be broken.”

New-Generation African Poets arrived at the doors of Today's book of poetry a couple of months ago with considerable fanfare.  It is a stunning boxed set of nine chapbooks.  To quote Akashic Books:

"New Generation African Poets: A Chapbooks Box Set (Nine), edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani, is an annual project of the African Poetry Book Fund--established through the generosity of Laura and Robert F.X. Sillerman and published in collaboration with Akashic Books--which seeks to identify the best poetry written by African authors working today, with a special focus on those who have not yet published their first full-length book of poetry."

Today's book of poetry has chosen Chekwube O. Danladi's Take Me Back as the first chapbook from this series to grace our page.  Over the coming months Today's book of poetry will be looking at another four titles from this exceptional offering from Akaskic Books.  

Chekwube O. Danladi tries "to mask the lust/oozing from me" as she says in the poem Tomorrow, Chaka Demus Will Play, but it turns out that it isn't quite possible.  And just so you know, Chaka Demus is a Jamaican reggae musician.

Tomorrow, Chaka Demus Will Play

while I braid my hair long / thump coconut oil between
the sections / crack palm nut with my teeth / rub the
meat on my belly / I'll want to go dancing  / might
go to the Shake and Bake / I'll bless Ma with a slash /
tuck a miniskirt in my purse for later / might wear lip
-stick too / there'll still black henna on my hands from
Zaynab's wedding / they might bend around a black
man's waist / we'll dance like we're blood / we'll both
wonder / was the slave trader your ancestor or mine? /
his rum-laced tongue will coat my lobes / I'll think of
Mama / while he bonds with me / I can get home myself /
I'll say / I'll creep in / past Mama on the sofa / drink coffee
to mask the lust / oozing from me / I'll eat leftover jollof
cold from the pot / I'll heave / I might struggle / with sleep

...

These poems wrestle with a sexuality that seems to have escaped the bounds of gender.  Danladi has concerns with colonization and the dark history that frames all of the present and past but in the back and front of her libidinous mind she's working over both the notion of her sexual pleasure and the sexual politic.

Take Me Back certainly feels like a book written from a position of strength, Danladi has all the justified confidence of a seasoned and mature poet in her young voice.

When I First Encountered Kwame Nkrumah's
Crypt, I laughed

The sun-blanched effigy gleamed,    Mine was the sun-blanched body,
                       the body of a haunt hot for wanting,    skirting the pull of visibility
                                    the crypt emerging that way   in a thrust the dead enact,
                       that wants to be seen in its unseeing,   pretending to want to be forgotten,
                    if the unseen could ever be so humble.   as if we can shun character.
                   They did not even let the man die here,   Osagyefo found his own end.
                      but there was love in the return, sure,   Consider the sweetness of forgiving.
           as I too have dug graves that hold no bones.   Perhaps he is not even in there.
How many times must a man go on dying?   Perhaps he has gone on living elsewhere.
Could a father ever be that dead?   Is this the malediction of exile?
                     Would weeping be more appropriate?   I should have wept more thoroughly but
                                               Humour took hold as   I let the mirthful musing rack me.
                                     I thumbed the fringe stones.  The crypt is sanctuary for the displaced, I learn.
I left an offering of bronze.  I hoped for a Kente inlay.

...

Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) led Ghana to independence and was the first President following colonial rule.

In his preface to Take Me Back series editor Kwame Dawes speaks about Danladi and how her "imagination is happily wanton."  Danladi isn't afraid to draw blood, or when necessary, to let some of her own flow.  She realizes, intuitively, when to go for the jugular in a poem.

This is a strong and confident voice, the voice of an empowered woman, flexing.  These poems feel woman strong, purposeful.

At the World's End
For (and after) Kofi Awoonor

At a soft shore,
I have the salt, a
boning knife, candles
(two red, one black), a spool of
thread. Easy waves wane, coax flitting
fish. I have the cry of the wind while the moon gives birth
in the offing. Boss, this now is my own lament. History reigns as
cruelty, consumes more than it kills. I croak with the kingfisher here, thirst sated,
hunger not, but seeking, this loss a continued meditation; the ache of the
   wound keeps me
up at night. Still I ask: What may I offer you? What would be enough? May I
   weep-sing
near Keta Lagoon? To hope that when the water breaks open there, people may
   hear the
heat of your name? Sir, even the ocean quavered, even death jostled. When my
wings mend, as night labors dawn, as the graves grow green, I will
burrow by the shoreline and meet you. I will have fruit and 
sun and song for you. Here is peace, have it.

...

Kofi Awoonor (1935-2013), was a Ghanian poet "who combined poetic traditions of his native Ewe people with contemporary and religious symbolism to depict Africa during decolonization."

Take Me Back is a strong first outing and Chekwube O. Danladi is a poet we will be on the watch for. Today's book of poetry agrees with Kwame Dawes when he speculates in his introduction about Danladi's future.  Dawes insists Danladi's future is incandescent, Today's book of poetry couldn't agree more.  No whimsy here.

Image result for chekwube o danladi photo
Chekwube O. Danladi

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chekwube O. Danladi is a Nigerian American writer of poetry and fiction. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in Washington, D.C. and West Baltimore. Yes, she knows someone who was in The Wire. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apogee, PANK, Callaloo, Poetry International, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, titled Take Me Back, is forthcoming with the APBF New Generation African Poets series (Akashic Books, 2017). She lives in Champaign, Illinois with a wacky mutt named Goldie.


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DISCLAIMERS

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dear Liz - Lisa Andrews (Indolent Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Dear Liz.  Lisa Andrews.  Indolent Books.  Brooklyn, New York.  2016.

Front_cover_ANDREWS

Ok, you've probably heard this from Today's book of poetry before but everyone in this office is in love with Carson McCullers.  If they aren't, they don't last long.  So when Today's book of poetry opened Lisa Andrews' Dear Liz to this quote:

     And how can the dead be truly dead when they still
     live in the souls of those who are left behind?

     -Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

we suspected we were on terra firma, in high cotton, following the right road.

Lisa Andrews loves the movies as though theatres were churches and films religion.  Today's book of poetry can relate to that particular sensibility.  Growing up that was where all our heroes/heroines were made.  Dear Liz entertains, uses movies/cinema as fodder, but in fact is an eloquent eulogy for a departed friend.

Advantages of Watching a Movie
From 1944 at 3:00 in the Afternoon

1.  I have not been born; therefore,
     none of my friends are sick, dead or in trouble.

2.  If the movie ends, it can begin again. What I am watching has the illusion
     of a beginning, middle and end, but it's really a loop.

3.  If the movie from 1944 is, say, two hours long, I know, in the last five
     minutes or so, what's likely to happen has to happen soon. There's only so
     much time.

4.  In this movie, there are no insurance companies, no double billing, no
     dedicated service teams, no issue resolution experts, no hierarchy of
     obfuscation, inefficiency or cruelty.

5.  No one inside this movie is going to correct my grammar, fire me, suggest
     I find another place to live.

6.  No once inside this movie is going to call and call and put me in the
     position of not picking up for as long as the phone keeps ringing, because
     I know, without knowing, this is not a call I want to receive, and I actually
     think if I don't pick up the call, I can keep it from happening. The "it"
     cannot happen, will not happen, cannot have happened. Even if the caller
     hangs up and keeps calling back, I will not have to answer or willfully
     ignore this phone. If the phone rings, it's safe to assume it's not me they
     want.

7.  Nothing I know can harm me now. Not here, not inside this movie. The
     movie is the preexisting condition, and we are the condition not yet in
     existence.

8.  Nothing bad has happened yet.

9.  Not that wind-knocked-out-of-you feeling; not that abrupt lack of desire
     for anything in the present or future tense--unimaginable state. No tears
     at inopportune moments--the airplane, the department store, the cross-
     town bus--the tears that are endless. The body, the heart, the mind would,
     if it could, cry forever.

10.  Only, if I watch this movie from 1944, if I can somehow enter the movie,
       the way, for example, you could and did--could not help but enter each
       movie, pass through to the very inside--it means, even now (now that I,
       too, am inside this movie)--no matter that it is 1944--we are both alive.

11.  It's a little like breakfast in childhood. No one is drinking yet; no one is
       screaming or crying--not at 7:00 a.m. Not in 1944.

12.  I haven't met you yet or been born; therefore, you can't have died, are not
       now dead, especially since I don't think I ever really believed--apparently
       not--even when it should have been obvious--inescapable cold fact--not
       even then did I think you were dead. After all, I didn't see it. Not the end.
       Not with my own eyes.

13.  But I've seen you enter a movie. And when you told your film professor
       you believed every movie was real, how whatever was happening on the
       screen was also happening to you, he said, I'm afraid I can't help you with
       that--which means you are inside the movie I am watching now, which
       means you are the movie I am watching.

14.  I leave your phone numbers and address intact. I will not update, I will
       not delete. I will remember.

15.  The way, in that hushed auditorium, you shouted, Don't drink that glass
       of milk! The way you stood in that theater in Times Square, announced:
       I am Spartacus.

16.  If I watch a movie, then am I anywhere nearer? Are you?

17.  When I see something I know you'd like to see, I lose control.

18.  It's the opposite of the way a friend of mine, pregnant, would muse, when
       crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, Oh, this is a view my child will one day see.
       You see, it's like that, only in reverse.

19.  But not with the movie from 1944. You could be sitting right here beside
       me, watching every frame. Even now. And if I watch what you have
       watched, am I not watching you? Am I not being watched by you?

...

Dear Liz is a sad playground littered with elegant memory and palatable love/grief, the knowing certainty that there is no return from death.  Andrews has imagined every generous plot she can conjure but is left with the knowledge that once that real life screen goes dark there is no coming back.

Andrews laments the loss of a dear friend in a language she is certain the friend will understand.  The loss so real and immediate that clearly Andrews is haunted by it -- until she turns it into the melancholy music of poetry.

Lucent Machine

I don't know who left it or why--
this message on a Friday in the middle of the day.
Not the usual 8:00 a.m. hang up. Not Citibank
Identity Theft Solutions. Not Capitol One
still calling with an offer. No wrong number
about a change in an appointment--not mine.
No survey. No one asking for money or my vote.
No one telling me the car is outside. No one asking
about a sign in our yard. No solvable mystery--
not like the friend who called as the Easter Bunny--
a mystery it took us years to solve.

No record under "calls received"--
not "private caller" or "caller unknown"--
not even "out of area." No record at all.
Only this voice--a woman singing, then whistling--a voice
barely embodied by breath--hypnotic and jazzy
and pulling me in--this bluesy lullaby from beyond--
drowning in static and taking its time--
the only recognizable words--sometime and goodbye--
a voice so close to the one I keep telling myself
it can't possibly be.

...

Today's book of poetry's morning read was dominated by the women in our office this time around. Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, orchestrated the reading, added some film references when she thought we needed them, and generally ruled the roost.  The readings were gentle, the conversation that followed full of missing friends.

Dear Liz was an excellent vehicle for our morning read, we all climbed in and drove it a while. These poems are diamond hard, heart soft, and by the end of our reading of Dear Liz everyone in the office was a Lisa Andrews fan.

The Dead Are So Invisible

The dead are so invisible--no matter how deeply felt
their absence is--their presence, so resolutely denied us.

It's almost boring really--how invisible they are--
like some childhood game, Come out, Come out, Wherever you are.

The dead are it. No we are it--and this
the coldest game of hard to get. And still

we chase them, want them to save us,
come back for us--no matter the dead

have others things on their minds--
and who can say what mind might stand for?

Surely the dead are not so preoccupied with the living.
No one wants that, do they? And yet,

who if not us will they come back for? And how else
will we know how to find them?

...

A bit of a revolving door here at the Today's book of poetry offices.  You've all heard about the sad departure of Odin.  Yesterday our Chief of Security, Otis, left for a month in Belgium.  He'll be drinking fruity beers and eating "frites" with mayo by the time he reads this.  In other office news our next door neighbour Caroline is leaving for a month in South Africa in a couple of days.  But rest assured dear reader, Today's book of poetry isn't leaving his front porch.

As long as our much maligned mailman Yves continues to bring poetry to the door we'll hang around. Volumes like Lisa Andrews' Dear Liz continue to raise the ante.  Dear Liz is one sad geography -- but it is also a book full of promise, Lisa Andrews can burn.

Lisa Andrews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Andrews grew up in Michigan and moved back to her native New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. A graduate of Hunter College, she received an MA in English Literature and an MFA in Poetry from NYU. Recipient of a New Voice Poetry Award from the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA, Lisa has had residencies at Blue Mountain Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband, artist Tony Geiger.


BLURBS
Luminous, whimsical, and heartbreakingly tender by turns, the poems in Lisa Andrews’s Dear Liz are a portrait of a beloved friend, movie-going companion, and fellow human, a portrait unfailingly loyal to the telling detail, unfailingly appreciative of the quotidian. To read these poems is to enter a world that is full of feeling, at once loving and quirky. There is grief here, but these poems, more, help us continue in the world, which Andrews, sometimes plainly, sometimes in stunning images, shows us to be full of beauty. Dear Liz is a moving reminiscence, and to be offered the friendship this book offers its readers is to feel healed and restored.
      —Sharon Kraus

In these poems that confront the loss of a dear friend, Lisa Andrews makes us confront our own connections in the world and our own mortality. Here, we long to walk familiar city streets; to slice the avocado so thinly that there is little left to slice; to stand in the oblivious snow; to sit in the darkened theater and stop Joan Fontaine from drinking the milk; and we long to do it in the company of someone we love. An homage to friendship and to living, Dear Liz is a beauty, a heart breaker, an oracle, and a lament.
     —Nicole Callihan


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DISCLAIMERS

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Certain Details, The Poetry of Nelson Ball - Nelson Ball (Wilfrid Laurier University Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Certain Details, The Poetry of Nelson Ball.  
Nelson Ball.  selected with an introduction by Stuart Ross.  Laurier Poetry Series.  Wilfrid Laurier University Press.  Waterloo, Ontario.  2017.


As the delightful Dame Edna might say, "Welcome back puppets."  Today's book of poetry has been on an extended leave and would like to thank each and every one of you for sticking around.

We ventured to Gaspe to the see Jardins de Metis http://www.refordgardens.com/english/ and once again we were amazed and delighted.  Spent a few nights sitting on the porch of our motel watching a seal frolic while we sipped beer and watched the sun set over the water.

Today's book of poetry started getting packages from our Southern Correspondent, the Twangster, a few months ago.  Since then there has been a beautiful barrage of David Lee, Dave Etter, Rodney Jones and others.  Today's book of poetry has been on leave but we've been reading.  Mr. Clewell has enriched the archives here and we just wanted to tip our hat in his crazy direction.

***

Today's book of poetry doubts that he is alone when he wishes he wrote like Nelson Ball.  Ball is some kind of Canadian Zen Nature poet -- who doesn't stop at nature.  Everything under the sun may be considered but what we get is some crazy (in the very best way) condensed vision that whispers instead of shouts.

When Nelson Ball whispers every poet in Canada leans in to listen because no one does it better.

Dead Flies

I

Three small piles
             of grey dust

flies expired
             on white paper--

a sheet of notes
             easily brushed off


II (with boots on)

Resting on hind legs and rearmost tips

of 
wings

             tilted
             like a rocket launcher

it died
just like that

...

Certain Details, The Poetry of Nelson Ball was selected and is introduced by Stuart Ross.  Any regular reader of this blog will be familiar with his name.  Stuart selected, edited and introduced my most recent book, Bad Engine (Anvil Press, 2017) http://michaeldennispoet.blogspot.ca/2017/06/bad-engine-michael-dennis-anvil-press.html 

Mr. Ross has an excellent skill set when it comes to showing poets in their best light.  Certain Details looks at work from eight previous Nelson Ball collections as well as a generous sampling of previously uncollected poems.

Nelson Ball isn't what I would call a minimalist but he's awfully careful with his word dispersal, selective to say the least.  It compels the reader to lean in closer and listen harder.

The Real Story

I've often wondered why Jesus Christ
who historically was one of many Jewish prophets

became famous, really famous.  Yes, he was
a good man.  There have been

many good men, some recorded in history,
most, probably not.  The real story

is that Jesus Christ had friends
who were writers.

...

Certain Details closes with a rare look inside Nelson Ball's world with a candid and humble essay Afterword: Me and My Poetry: An Autobiographical Essay.  And it is worth the price of admission alone.

Today's book of poetry has taken you readers into Nelson Ball territory more than any other poet and it is not hard for me to see why.  Others see it too.  At this morning's office read the entire staff were back from their various adventures and it made for a festive atmosphere.  Then Milo and Kathryn really got the party started when they said it best.  Milo stepped up in front of the room, rolled up his left sleeve and there, just above his wrist, in tiny lower case letters, "ball".  Before any of us could think or comment Kathryn stood up beside him, rolled up her right sleeve and there, in the appropriate spot was "nelson."

Writing A Poem

Writing a poem is like felling a tree.

The poem's point of attention, like
the tree's centre of gravity

is held back in rhetoric--
thick bush--if the

path isn't clear.

...

The Laurier Poetry Series has enhanced their legacy with the inclusion of Certain Details, The Poetry of Nelson Ball to their canon.

Today's book of poetry applauds these excellent poems as well as the future poetry of Nelson Ball, a quiet but true national treasure.

Image result for nelson ball photo poet
Nelson Ball

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nelson Ball, poet and bookseller, lives in Paris, Ontario. He has worked as a labourer, chauffeur, office clerk, forest ranger, record store clerk, and janitor. From 1965 to 1973 he ran Weed/Flower Press. The author of over thirty books and chapbooks, he is featured in Catherine Stevenson’s video “Nelson Ball & Barbara Caruso | Home Project | A Photo Documentary.”

ABOUT STUART ROSS
Stuart Ross is a writer, editor, and writing instructor. His recent books include A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (2016), A Hamburger in a Gallery (2015), and Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (2015). He has maintained a micropress, Proper Tales, since 1979, and has his own imprint at Anvil Press. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario.


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