Friday, January 11, 2008

Accidental Landscapes. Brian Morrisey.

( Poesy POBOX 7823 Santa Cruz, CA 95061) $6.

I remember meeting Poesy founder Brian Morrisey years ago at the Salvation Army in Cambridge, Mass., where I was part of a poetry reading. He was just out of college—finding his way in the greater poetry world—and the world-at-large. Since then he has moved to the West Coast, but we have kept in touch. I have been the Boston-editor for his Poesy magazine for the past 10 years, and have read with him at the Out of the Blue Art Gallery in Cambridge on a couple of occasions. In his latest collection “Accidental Landscapes,” I can see Morrisey settling into his God-given role as a poet. In earlier books he seemed to give a finger to the world that seemed to deny him this badge. But now Morrisey has sunk or risen comfortably into the role of the artist. There is no need to justify his life—it speaks for itself. The poems in this collection are Morrissey’s most accomplished to date. There is a beautiful stillness and sadness, with flashes of anger at the state of the world and our country. There are the encounters with women in bars in Dublin, in digs overlooking the South China Sea. Morrisey is well traveled and seasoned and it shows in his work.

In the poem “In My House” Morrisey, like the “Doors” song “When You're Strange,” defines the “strangeness” of the artist, the outsider, the artistic sensibility:

“She tells me I am strange
I see the face of death
in yawns of old men
a sly wink of the eye
because we both know
how ashes are made.

She tells me I am strange
I would rather barter
with a sleeping hour
to sift through words
for diamonds
feeding a passion
worth more
than hope
more colorful
than green….”

And in “Poisonous Magic” Morrisey can’t forget an authentic, charming but down-at-the heels woman he met in a bar in Dublin:

“She may have been a drunk
but knew the taste of fire
smoked through Marlboro Reds
between lips
that savored
the taste of pain
given like storybook rhymes
I will always remember…

Back at the local bar
there is too much lipstick
not enough words
too many heels
not enough boots
too many blondes
painted black
and faking it

it is mostly when
a door slams
I think of her
How she may leave
but never say goodbye

This book also boasts a fine cover photograph and inside photos by the author.

Highly recommended.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Jan 2008/Somerville, Mass.

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