A book of New Age poetry, an extrapolation of the original chapbook seed by
Bruce Kauffman published by The Plowman (2005), the new edition includes new
poetry in the Prologue and Epilogue. A quiet tome of romanticism and the sacred.
This is the second book of Poet Kauffman’s work I have reviewed, the first being
The Texture of Days, In Ash and Leaf.
A truly good poetry read is like beautiful dessert, an escape on a Summer afternoon, you suspend the day and dwell inside the gift of the Poet. The poetry has the ability to touch you in a place past reason, as if existing within a secret world and this is the gift of a seed within. Drawing you into the artist’s painting quietly without any capitalization and a lack of punctuation the themes of romanticism, nature, life, death and rebirth begin to unfold. There is a lack of punctuation (particularly I have noticed a lack of punctuation in other New Age Poets) perhaps a protest at the growing angst and violence of modern times, and the dis-ease of modern love. The lack of capitalization may be interpreted as a reflection of the sacred. The theme of love “in the echoes/of another/language/the moon/wears them/all/and you tell/me about/old dreams/weeping/new dreams/whispering/and I now/with the moon/the only one left/believing still/in them all” and “the shadows/of gull/of the crow/the eagle fly/without body/and/fly above/in your whispers/painted/across the sky” as if propelled by some sweet mystery, the words across the page. Similar to ee cummings, the words are constructed like a layer cake with indents and sudden windings that punctuate the flow of words. Like the shifting sands of time and the disharmony of a quiet violence the words are constructed, like being brought up, a new recognition, a new sadness. “the opposite/of silence is/neither sound/nor noise/ but instead/emptiness” a quiet lament. Also the idea of rebirth, “you, alone/the last/of your seed” goes on to weave the idea of continuity into a lost and broken world. The darkness of Existentialism in a seed within has become quiet as if having morphed into a warmer day “a new polished surface/of new fresh skin”. As if the violence of man is somehow misplaced in such a world and how the world of nature survives and will go on without us “when we/have forgotten/all the words/in all the languages/the new birds/will still fly/remembering/even this”. Inside the words is the wisdom, wonder and enigma of a sage. As if painting the days into quiet and disallure, the poetry falls into grace, a worship of birds, forest, leaves, rain and desert inside the inner eye of the Creator, beautiful poetry, a work of the New Age.
Available at Amazon.
How the Light is Spent is a book of poems by Gail Sidonie Sobat, the
stories of a world traveler, a Canadian, the stories of home, not home. She is
the daughter of a first generation Ukrainian mother and Serbian father, born in
Calgary, Alberta. She is an award winning author, mostly for children’s fiction
and this is her second book of poetry.
The book is divided into 3 sections, Badlands, Sailing to Byzantium and How the Light is Spent. The first part, Badlands centers on the experiences of a bride in W.W. II, as if inspired by the memories of her mother. The second part, Sailing to Byzantium is inspired by life in a foreign country, perhaps Istanbul. The third part, How the Light is Spent is about time, ruminations on the passage of time. The first book is set in the Depression years and the time of W.W. II, the beginning in the voice of a young adult girl, through the stories of an older woman, perhaps her mother. It is a fascinating telling of rural life, poverty and survival, a young girl, her mother dies, her father remarries a woman with 5 children, he kicks her out at 15 years old, she finds a job in a dress shop. She marries her lover, the war is in the background, the husband dies in the war, the girl as old woman as time passes. The poem “red sweater” is riveting, the war widow goes to the Army and Navy to purchase a toaster and “then I spy it/red delicious candy apple/my favourite colour” instead she purchases the red sweater “who needs toast/when you’ve got a bright red sweater.” Another theme in the background is the coal mines and the coal miner, “coal is a thick vein through this valley” “you can smell the coal dust” and “you wash your father’s back/careful to avoid the mole/that disgusts you”, the reality of life in a small town centered in the mining industry. The style is simple and direct as if mouthing themes too old for a young girl’s heart. A book of poetry rooted in rural Canada, the profound shines in the truth telling of the everyday. The entire work has barely any capitalization and absolutely no punctuation as if in protest at the injustices of a broken world. Also, there is an activist bent to the work,”black as the owner’s hearts/the same who send men for pennies/down into ill-lit tombs” about the mine owners and writing about losses “ . . . what will I put in place of my heart/cut out by your albatross beak”; notes of protest “one click of key in lock/admits me to the stale air/of missing” and “I’m still here and still raging/know more than I did yesterday”, the poetry is the dance.
The second book Sailing to Byzantium is set in a foreign place, perhaps Istanbul, it is the colour and dance of life in distant places. “skinny street cats/tortoise, black, calico/thread between our legs”. And the quiet in “that life is precious and rich/as the dark thick coffee/in the demitasse.”
The third book, How the Light is Spent is a story about the passage of time. “the sky still is streaked with blue hope/though the wind raises a cruel hand to the cheek/a heart tosses in the tempest like the spruce limbs/desire flutters to the ground with the other dead leaves.” A quiet rendition of life, “birdfeeder needs filling/walks shoveling/doorsteps sweeping/throughout a colourless month/signifying death” somewhat repetitive almost pendantic as if weaving the day out of nothing. There are daily urban/rural images of the modern world “morning will break/like the yellow yolk of a soft boiled egg”. The bones of truthtelling, the Poet as outlander, inside; a deep anger with a subtle humour, a celebration of dance and survival. Upon the occasion of stories in poetry, a beautiful read on a Summer afternoon.
Available @ Wintergreen Studios Press.
She’s an Island Poet a brilliant work of poetic craft in poetic prose and poetry celebrates the beauty of the ways and people of Newfoundland,
the rich tradition of the Maritime Celts. The book is divided into 8 sections with the title The poet’s journey; including Her Letter,
Island life, Shaped by, Her knowing, She, The she, Free, Music in her. The poetry seems structured as if perhaps in biography and stories about her
people and ends with an entire ensuite of passion in music, the story of paradise found.
Poet Cochrane writes in the full lilt of Irish brogue, the lines are effusive and full of imagery of the ocean, the land, the natural world juxtaposed with the everyday, the institutions of the modern world. As if evoking the Spirit of St. Brigid, herself, this writer stands in awe of such beautiful paintings of the written word. The poetry is rooted in the island homeland of Newfoundland, the celebration of her people and the poverty with the loss of the fisheries and a way of life, “we once caught our way of life on the tables of our kitchens now government houses in Ottawa forget to notice our tables were the fishery as well.” As well as being artistically masterful, the poetry takes on the protest of our times “I forecasted rain over hill tops destroying waters of all lands with industrialization in the name of corporate taxes” and “realities are blurred between the individual right and/no government and state controlled speech”. Yet, more than protest is the persistent dance of passion in the face of hard times and the loss of the Old Ways “I grew roses in jars where nothing was seen in droughted soil” and “to give her the pitch for her poems pouring from wine glasses/rimmed with gold lines with pictures of angry saints/and they praise operatic sounded/hats paying pensions to the guitar/but anything against the rhythm blasts light down her throat/ and words come forth from /dimes suspended on water”. Woven amongst the poetry is the stories of her life, of the life of her family and the people of the Community, “my grandmother’s spoons tapping the beat on her leg, and I smiled at my Irish rose in her crib, but heard nothing, nothing, nothing, in response to my own voice, but the echoes of ocean and extended family I left behind on a beach polished to perfection amongst rougher/edges thrown around by North Atlantic Ocean.” And the perfect revelations of truth, “Mother pressed my dress,/got me ready for onlookers,/ waiting to talk about mother/Something she always went on about/and I don’t think she ever let them know she hated them.” In Mainland teaching there is the story of how her peers made fun of her accent but the children loved it “and each day the stranger became a mainland accent.” The words often paint rich images as if creating mythology, “when the heritage of my island/does not and the silks sway around/me in endless, endless, motions over/crowns with no men, and swords with/few answers, and I am the bull fighter/on my knees for forgiveness,/and where is my faceless/man in a monk’s hood holding/a red light, he walks/slow circles,/around fallen/stairways and minds,/jammed shut,/and the island waves sweep/back through/time, and lands on rock/deeply hidden beneath her lost.” And perhaps mourning having left her Newfoundland home but living still within its celebration of life, the beauty of place and sacred space, the synchronicity of living amongst your own people.
Capitalization and punctuation is sporadic, even the rhyming quiet in the face of such a gift. The poetic prose style is a new innovation of the New Age, often seen in the works of Rob McLennan and the poets published at Above Ground Press, it is a stream of consciousness flow of language, in this case neatly encapsulated in justified lines, perhaps heralding in the new way of peace and accountability through the Internet and the New Age. In the writing of poetry there are moments of epiphany but this is pure cake, the passion and celebration of the Celts from Melinda Cochrane, She’s an Island Poet.
Available at Argos Bookstore (Montreal), www.melindacochrane.com and Amazon.ca.