Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"Ferrovie" (poems) by Anthony Russell White
Cervena Barva Press $ 5.00
Copyright 2007 by Anthony Russell White
Reviewed by Mike Amado
When this reviewer reads prose poems two names always are summoned,
Charles Baudelaire and Robert Bly. Upon further probing of Ferrovie
by Anthony Russell White, it turned out White was introduced to the form
by Bly himself at a workshop. The prose style renders these poems to the realm of
journal entries with easy, open language. But there are twists.
Ferrovie means trains in Italian. All ten poems embody train travel as a grounding
Literally, the speaker is journeying through Italy, though no concluding destination
is mentioned. He meets a cast of characters that are instantly fantastical.
Through these characters, (real or made up doesn’t matter)the speaker finds himself
traveling abstract dimensions.
Told in first person, the speaker retells the encounters with a photographer,
a Reiki Master and a Siamese twin, joined at the ear and hand to her sister.
Ferrovie begins with a Vietnam Veteran retelling his first attack and seeing a
yellow airplane that wasn’t there. Because of that vision, the Vet and fellow train
traveler exclaims "I knew then I would survive."
The poems further unravel into the surreal. In a train station, the speaker finds
a man selling lotto tickets who has with him a "genuine" two-headed dog.
"Second head sticking out from left shoulder . . .
A red tongue lolled just like his big brothers.
. . . He was clearly a right-headed dog."
In the final poem, "Lunch With The Gypsy" we meet a gypsy who presents a map,
not of places and landmarks but of souls. (The soul, of course, being one of the
most abstract phenomena is easily inserted here among the journeying as almost
an everyday thing.) The gypsy proceeds to show how individual souls coil,
connect and link to one another in "Delicate colored webs of relationships.",
Summing up for the speaker the soul-interactions of his life.
"Then he folded it (the map) . . . down to a single glowing point . . ."
Ferrovie is the latest collection by Anthony Russell White and the winner of the
2006 Cervena Barva Press chap book contest. White considers himself "a pilgrim,
a poet and a healer" who is an admirer of Rumi, the mystic poet, born 1207 in what is
now Afghanistan, who was the impetus of the Whirling Dervishes. Along with
American poet William Stafford, these influences blend and are prevalent.
The surrealism in these poems adds a Twilight Zone / Amazing Stories appeal,
where this reader wonders what within the poems came from White’s dreams,
imagination or real events. All in all, Ferrovie equals one good trip.
--Mike Amado/Ibbetson Update/ Aug 2007