Poetry Read

64. A Sonic Boom of Stars: 2020 Southern California Haiku Study Group Anthology, edited by Beki Reese & Susan Rogers Southern California (2020) is a set of haiku, then a “foreign language” section including Spanish, a few haibun and then a chapter of haiku in a theme of windows. There are several outstanding poets but the haibun outshone the haiku in appeal for me. I seem to be on a storytelling kick.
65. The Ouroboros by Jim Johnstone (Knife Fork Book, 2021) is a really tight 5-page poem of the dystopia of the body of a city, what it confines and permits, and the walls within it between groups of people.
66. Peter Mark Roget: The Man who Became the Thesaurus: A biography by Nick Rennison (Pocket Series, 2007) is not a biography nor poetry. Roget is maybe 20% of the book, the rest being a James Burkian leap around the context and backgrounds of people and organizations tangentially related to him. It could be trimmed by 10% for long sentences and repetition. Interesting enough but not as billed.
67. Their Queer Tenderness by Neil Surkan (Knife Fork Book, 2020) is a gorgeous attentive little collection that I’ve already re-read twice. The lines pick their way carefully and surprise in their turns. For example, “a cumulous of blackberries” or “the wounded/ smell of clipped grass. Chemical/defence. Distress signal//to other grass” followed after a few lines by “Poetry//is such a wounded smell.”
68. The Gospel of Breaking by Jillian Christmas (Arsenal, 2020) is part anthem, part confession and rather exhilarating from her call out to the bike thief “canoe-douche” to aching love poems to a refrain of attending to her aged mother. Compassion and humour in a good ratio from “stealthy as a fledging emu who has had a touch too much mike’s hard lemonade” to a call out if those who spoke against robin williams who went though life despite depression when “every room you enter fills itself with/sharp objects pointed in your direction.” And poems of quiet reflection, considering how “the promise of possibility is a trap that has kept me from the joys of my own life.”
69. Undiscovered Country: new poems by Al Rempel (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2018) I have been trying not to read too fast and have largely been failing. They work in the long form build and reveal, in accumulation of quiet details so not very excerptible. It’s a quiet slow patio with tea, conversation without performance, but conferring how we’re orphans now, how funerals take up so much headspace, how “we should wait and see what comes after” in a world “lidded with a ceiling of leaves” where “our adult lives are gyroscopic, and by this I mean, we’ll do anything not to fall.”

Undiscovered Country
Undiscovered Country by Al Rempel
The Gospel of Breaking by Jillian Christmas