Friday, 21 December 2012

Book 91 of 2012: Tomorrow We Will Live Here

My friend Jen has been introducing me to some new poetry recently and leant me three books to see what I thought of them. The last that I’ve come to is Tomorrow We Will Live Here by Ryan Van Winkle and I think it’s probably my favourite of all three.

I always struggle to know what to say about poetry collections, especially the ones that I like a lot. I think that pretty much all of the poems in this book take place in America, they have an American sort of feel to them anyway and they seem to feature all sorts of people from all sorts of places and walks of life. These poems feel like that have a sort of depth to them, they have stories behind them and the more you think about them, the more you appreciate what that story is or might be.

Of all the poems there were four that were my very favourites, so I’ll say a little bit about them. The first is ‘The Grave-tender’ which is about a man tending a woman’s grave. He talks about the grave as though it’s the woman and say things about ‘her soil’ and ‘her polished head’. At a glance you might think that he’s talking about tending the flowers in someone’s garden. It’s a bittersweet sort of poem, at the beginning you find out how frail she was before she died, but there seems to be a lot of love in the way that the man takes care of her grave, but at the end the man mentions that his body is ‘going to seed’ so you wonder how much longer he’ll be able to keep it up and whether there’ll be someone who’ll look after his grave in the same way.

‘The Flood’ is a really simple, short little poem: “Furniture, photos, / petals floating in water. // It was spring and the river / bloomed and rose.’ At the time when I was reading this book there was a lot of flooding going on around the country and it just seemed fitting some how. I liked the way that the poem moves from talking about household things to nature. It’s so short and I can’t pick exactly what it is I like about it, but it’s just perfect somehow.

One that really stuck with me and made me think was ‘I Got Out When It All Went Down’. In the book this poem runs down one page and over onto the top of the next one, and at the bottom of the first page I thought ‘this could be talking about September 11th’. Which it is. It’s about someone who escaped from their life in the aftermath of 9/11, they were late for work that morning but they left and led everyone to believe that they were killed. Each time I read it, I notice something else that I’ve missed or which could be taken differently and I really like it. The man is not particularly likeable but I think he’s a bit guilty about what he did, it’s a very interesting poem, I’d love to read more dealing with the same thing.

There’s also one called ‘Also, It Is Lambing Season’ which I loved from the title alone, because I’ve been there, done that. It took me back to being on the farm, being out at six in the morning when it was a bit cold and there was dew on the grass and you’ve just delivered a steaming hot lamb. It conjured up all those memories and I loved it for that.

Ryan Van Winkle is definitely a poet that I’ll be looking out for again. There’s something interesting about the way that he writes. I just kind of wish that this collection had been longer.

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Let me know what you think. :-)