Thursday, April 16, 2015
A review of g emil reutter’s Carvings
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: StoneGarden.net Publishing (November 20, 2010)
Review by P C K Prem
A collection of verses, Carvings (Stonegarden.net Publishing California, USA 2010) celebrates life’s experiences picturesquely and underlines universal viewpoint.
g emil reutter is effortless and placid as he thinks, writes, and excavates the trajectory of life, its little experiences, happenings and words. He talks of feelings and tiny thoughts and recognizes familiar patterns in trivial happenings, otherwise infusing meaning to life. He looks at life, its wrecks, uproars and triumphs, losses, childlike promises and pains, paints pulsating and striking word pictures, clings to the soil of experiences and hides a few truths and half-truths. g emil’s lyrics dig deep, thrill, coax and abandon in between somewhere or possibly nowhere, and you still breathe in lyrical sparkles. He charms, haunts and taunts with the objet d'art. Like Anne Ridler, g emil’s lyrics focus on experiences is significant and it highlights modern perspective with subjectivity in narration of tiny incidents constituting life.
If a man aspires for more, life is miserable. Limiting desires enriches and world looks worth living even in chaotic settings. A petty man often does not boast but speaks truth in great lingo. If one humiliates a little poor man, even if wisely pragmatic it repulses. Men hide intrinsic flaws and inanity. Adoring man lives with a rationale ‘Brief Moments’ conveys. A man is hardnosed and uncaring to others’ sufferings. Ambulance and police car are symbolic of fake tragic anxiety- a paradox. ‘Sirens in the night’ is a wakeup call to get up, help the suffering, bring innovation and avoid a beaten track, for stupor and passivity immobilize an impotent shrunken age. Visiting and collecting remnants of past turns out a possession 26 he thinks.
A figurative reprimand in ‘Puddle in the dust’ pierces as thoughts of absolute void reoccur in ‘Rain and Linear Lines.’ Emptiness confronts a man with a lost objective. It is atypical when g emil raises eternal questions in ‘Ever So slowly’ 29, as destiny puzzles.
Pull up the shades open the window,
Fresh air fills the room venture out.
The time when one is alone,
Reality sets in, choices made,
A new home, time to move on.
Man takes birth, wakes up, works hard, grows bald, belly protrudes, and abruptly, he faces the enigma of redundancy from failure to success amid agonized tang.
Invoking nature for interpreting love is a strong weapon men pick to enhance intensity. ‘Nature’12 avidly talks of created beings as sunrays pierce and instill life. He recalls old romance as beauty and vastness of love of the beloved electrifies.
I know the myths of great
power, emotion, seduction; all that pale when
I look into your eyes…
I had forgotten long ago; your soft touch surreal
until your lips meet mine, my hands cup the
small of your back and reality takes hold.
Love-feelings seize in ‘Eliot and Love’ 15 as a beloved eternalizes a joyful experience. Magical feelings travel in ‘The Waters by New Hope.’ Time spent in love carries an ineffaceable impress –the eyes, the red cheeks and a warm embrace charm and thrill ‘as hope continues to /be restored each day I am /drawn closer to you’. To resurrect intensity defies portrayal and sharing, an exclusive experience that trickles in ‘Yellow Pages, Concourse and Shopping’ and speaks differently of love-tale-time gone, as memoirs revitalize thrills and pains.
Recognition of the eyes never seems to leave us
Histories exchanged we said our goodbyes
She as beautiful as that first day in junior high…
Intimacy continues undefined as a slow collapse in relations cautions. A voice known and still anonymous, perhaps an old love with unstipulated identity, turns an instant, sensitive.
Façade of elegance and grace
gives way to words
that draw me near
to bask in the radiant smile
eyes I cannot look away from. (Not an Old Testament Psalm 39)
Debris from past refresh old bonds lived and cherished passionately make running away edgily irresistible and create an aura of supernatural experience when a fanatical lover (Orbit 139) loves words dipping from the lips of a beloved…and takes a lover to unfamiliar land of ecstasy.
Ironically, experience of a night wasted proves acerbic. People drink but it offers no pleasure. A man enjoys life if sane or else stimulants dishearten and renounce. ‘Beer and Marlboros’ 13 signifies feral life wasted. In many verses like ‘Stormy Night’ 48, a night of drinks, passions and joys appears vain and sordid. A thought of joy flows in Blue Jay 17 narrating a strictly private experience. When one watches nature alone, one cannot share fulfillment. ‘Nature’ fills man with an experience of hugeness and stunning depth.
I cannot for if I do the flow will turn to a trickle the ocean will not be met.
Sun showers break out, droplets caress my skin and I envy the Atlantic.
(Envy the Atlantic 34)
A man is a merely a droplet, a trickle before the huge ocean. Awfully engaged in various pursuits, ‘City’ paints a picture when roads bubble as ‘Sweat beads drip along her arching spine, / chest heaving forward—/moaning and alone./The homeless guys /wear coats in the summer’ 38. The kids run about and play mischief and worn-out women sit to relax without ever thinking why the cops run around. Everyone is busily hectic and lives in safe restricted dwelling. Anxieties of a father for a daughter who travels on an errand are genuine, for security perturbs in a difficult age and women’s safety worries parents.
you and remember all those things a father never forgets about
a daughter; you are with me, safe from your travel.” Travel 55
In an age of crisis, each one wants an identity. To leave footprints and identity in a period of convolution overwhelm. Man exists and still appears nonexistent. Life between yes and no, with no specifics, torments in contrasting mind-sets. Man thinks people love but hate governs life as he suffocates in stifling emptiness and builds shelter in a hollow carrying philosophic strain. He talks of pragmatic approach, warns against meddlers in life, for they do nothing but only talk, suggest and advice, gossip and run away from responsibility.
Nostalgia lengthens out, as one looks at the frames pegged on walls, opens windows but looks at the world inside.
people in frames hang on wall
shelves full of memories… (Window open, 14)
Breathing in reminiscences, offers contentment. Everyone goes back and back to reconstruct cheery meadows. ‘Snowstorm’ 27 is reliving ‘and I savor this small memory /of those who have passed on to another place.’ Man vibrantly recalls days spent in the warmth of mom, now dead but the house breathes in mother’s aroma. In Carvings 40, a common wish finds expression. Somewhere, a man wants people to remember or may be, if he comes back, he revisits areas of shared memories.
It makes one wonder
where these people have gone,
and if they are standing
as tall and proud as the tree.
Memories of dead relations stay refreshing. A man without feeling for human relations is almost dead, for among bonds one lives a happy and definite life. (Emil 79) Past opens a photo album, a journey begins and one finds the dead alive the moment one touches…for little memories are tiny ‘pieces of life’. A man ignores the living and enjoys in memories of the dead –a hypocritical, perhaps an unwise outlook. ‘Open Hearth’ relates to frightful tomblike experience. When man experiences death so near, he fears, tastes, defeats death to relate an experience and goes back, and observes a melancholic strain in depiction elsewhere in ‘At the Station.’
In a slightly different vein, ‘Leather Couch’ 43 talks about the mental state and gives feelings of hell and heaven. “in this moment of silence so much is said and I know/ what heaven is like, not what the pious say it is,/ just what it is when I sit on the couch holding you.’ A man lives in false awakening, false youth and dreams and as old age dawns he resurrect jaunts.
Curiosity rises each moment as one sits on the steps and finds a girl next-door smoking even as pleasantries excite, an old woman looking questionably at the man flinging glances and at another corner, old women’s talks barely interest adolescents, creates a scenic marvel. None is prominent, nothing happens ever and still ordinary people stay central. A few loving, warm and passionate moments offer unique stimulation. One rejoices in impish feelings as coffee, cigarette and smoke define movements of words, lips, feelings and passions.
The telephone rings and I hear
your voice, extinguish the smoke, the coffee goes
cold. I sleep in the warmth of your voice. (Warm January Night 44)
It speaks of the state of mind, a bare truth. Engaged in various pursuits, a man visits graveyards and pays floral tributes…in many verses he evokes tepid loving moments.
Plastic flowers can be as cold as granite
even when the intention is warm…
In that strange way, cemeteries are for the
living not the dead… (Resurrection 45)
He speaks of depth, of reluctance in expression and love unlimited and the strain of love continues.
“Do you think we will live that long?”
“Yes,” I say
And we will make it look dam good
Again ‘the beauty that is you/draws me near each day/the smile/that took away darkness’ (You 75) speak of love, earthily and ethereal. ‘A Day without You’ 81 demonstrates passion as the lover waits for the beloved and glorious time. Elsewhere, he requests to understand life, for each little episode or occasion is noteworthy. Genuine efforts to value the mysterious flow of life reveals rationale and import. In ‘Re-creation’ 122, the poet is thoughtful and talks of a botched, withered life, wishes to restructure life and trim ‘infected’ weeds to recreate a lost man.
He talks of a routine human attribute. One reads a newspaper, and observes most of the words provide irrelevant gratification and joy. Papers speak of incidents, events, politicians, persons noble and scoundrels, films and actors -hot and frigid that in nutshell constitutes psyche of society. Soldiers’ death somewhere does not create a stir. Families suffer but none worries. Men are inhuman and cold but sympathy looks false, a two-faced attitude. News about the price of rice, gas, oil and daily necessities attracts interest. A man lives in cocoons of self-image, and death of close relations creates little noise and so a man lives secure in self-built cubicle.
You won’t read about families
grieving, devastated by loss
of never being complete again
those complaining about
the price of rice, gas and parking
of global warming
of how bad your day has gone. (News 18)
Greatly stressful yet warm, agonizing but pleasure giving strain travels in a few verses. Life in routine offers no pleasure. One meets people, talks, smiles, separates and forgets but life moves with a motif and still without purpose. Everyone looks at life through a window and experiences joy of a large park, a mere thought.
One is mechanical in acts and words, and acts even when none watches. Engaged in monotonous matters without inkling, a man feels focused. He starts with an objective and ends up without any purpose as vanity stares. ‘It is Just the Nature of Things’ 116 that a man grows and, ‘…sees the real nature of things, /‘as I move toward the noon of my life/ with these eyes that have witnessed the/ worst in the human condition…’ speaks of life’s experience in bits and in whole but a man reaches everywhere, and still nowhere.
He is graphic, vivid and genuine. ‘It’s Tuesday’ 133, a wonderful lyric tells about the business and jokes aged men indulge in, speaks of the puffs and dreams of youngsters at some isolated corners, of pastors getting ready for prayers… nothing escapes him -an observer par excellence. Bitter and unsavoury experiences and encounters educate. Time, place and persons do not always favour and gratify. Even adverse happenings offer a lesson but adversity also exists without a rider, for ‘Everyone has something nice to say.’
‘Smell of Pines Oak Canopy’ 59 sings song of beauty and charm. He is realistic- ‘winters are tough /energy drained /natures’ renewal/ fills me /a seedling/ canopy above.’ Love for nature thrills in ‘Boom Boom Boom’ with a different strain. He is disturbed when ‘gray clouds above weep/ and you/ can’t stop thinking … and ‘You can’t stop thinking/ as water beads streak across/ windows that surround you/ joining the gray clouds’ ‘Gray Day’ 123. A man relates pains and anguish to the objects of nature and nature sympathizes with the man in suffering, ‘April sun stands behind dreary/ clouds with no intention of casting/ streams of light, rainbows, just the/ melancholy of mist, gentle wind/ drizzle sprays the soggy ground,’ ‘Melancholy’ 124.
Melancholy haunts a sensitive poet and in contemplative moments, man tries to seek relief in nature, a perennial truth.
g emil experiences life in little bits and pieces and presents a rational viewpoint. He looks at life, paints fantastic word-pictures, and connects each one to everyone without philosophic stress. As one reads verses, one enjoys a pleasing fragrance without intellectual hang-ups and encounters enlightened realization in love despite balmy ennui life offers. Through seemingly little and often unobtrusive incidents and innocuous experiences, he builds a structure of thought and creates a favourable audience response and here, g emil demonstrates poetic strength.
An author of more than forty books in English and Hindi, P C K Prem (p c katoch) post-graduated in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1970, taught in different colleges before shifting to civil services and then served as a Member, Himachal Public Service Commission. With three books on criticism in English, seven novels and two collections of short fiction, he has brought out nine volumes of poetry. Katoch Prem (a winner of several awards) is a poet, novelist, short storywriter and critic in English from Himachal, India
Monday, April 13, 2015
|Poet Donald Lev|
Where I Sit, poems by Donald Lev, Presa Press, P.O. 792, Rockford, Michigan 49341, 88 pages, $15.95.
Review by Barbara Bialick
The first thing I noticed about the book Where I Sit was the appealing cover painting of a young woman sitting alone in a restaurant with a glass of red wine. This collection must be by someone who knows a lot about life, I thought. Then I felt the paper, the paper of the book itself, which was so smooth, I could easily turn from poem to poem. I did not however, pick up sensuality as a theme, however. More like thoughts from a craggy, older, male journalist who writes for a living, never at a loss for a word he thinks will be a zinger.
“Spring has come,/With a lot of wind and sun/And rain./Pain, too,/To rhyme with rain./Not that I needed the rhyme. I just/Wanted it.”
Such are these poems. The author writes them short and quick because he “wants it” that way.
His style then is like in the poem “One Brick at a Time”—in which he steals bricks from a shopping mall construction site that seems to be overly loaded with them. The shopping mall long built, he still hasn’t built anything with the bricks he took. He’s still “working on it”…
But Lev has thought a lot about time. He’s older than us baby boomer poets who think we know it all. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, in 1945, he was already nine years old and “had known no other president…I thought I’d tell you this,” he wrote.
So if you buy this book you can probably learn a few ideas. In “All Art” he says, “I always begin with the frame./All art is limitation.”
He may say he’s “clueless” that he’s had a “long, clueless life”, but that is his “boast.”
He’s not really clueless at all… Donald Lev, born in 1936, lives in High Falls, New York, where he publishes The Home Planet News, which he founded with his late wife, Enid Dame in 1979. He went to Hunter College and worked at both The Daily News and The New York Times. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry including A Very Funny Fellow, NYQ Books, in 2012. He has coordinated poetry readings at many venues and hosted “Open Poetry” on WNYC Radio.