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GHOST / LANDSCAPE is reviewed in The Colorado Review

 

Having thoroughly enjoyed Kristina Marie Darling’s The Sun & the Moon, I was eager to read Ghost / Landscape, a collaborative narrative book of prose poems Darling cowrote with John Gallaher. They did not disappoint. Ghost / Landscape follows in the footsteps of Darling’s previous books and her ongoing attempt to recapture and rebuild fractured lives. The collection revisits themes dear to Darling such as ghosts, locks and keys, ice and fire, dreams and memories, which she shares with John Gallaher. In an interview with Matthew Thorburn in Ploughshares, Gallaher says: “As In a Landscape was something of a reaction to writing the collaborative book, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts, with G.C. Waldrep, so this new book, called Ghost / Landscape, with Kristina Marie Darling, is a reaction to writing the very personal, conversational In a Landscape. Also, Ghost / Landscape is in prose, which is something I’ve also long wanted to do.” Darling and Gallaher are very well suited to each other, their voices perfectly synchronized, in unison, as if they shared one life and story: “It matters who your friends are. This is true for a wide variety of species, because we all think we’re having different lives, when really there’s only one life and we’re sharing it.” One blends into the other, becomes the other. “We knew the house was haunted, but at first, we were unsure which one of us was the ghost. Because you were always talking about role reversals . . . It’s like looking in a mirror.”

Ghost / Landscape reads like a puzzle or mystery to be solved, elucidated. The collection starts with “Chapter Two” and ends with “Chapter One,” and presents several versions of “Chapter Two,” or perhaps the same one examined through different lenses and angles.

The reader walks a labyrinth, searching for clues, each chapter relinquishing a few while simultaneously adding to the mystery. Miscommunication, false starts, and missed encounters abound, often with failed telephone calls and remembered conversations: “No matter what number I dial, you never seem to answer . . . I tried to phone you, but we’d reached the very edge of the meadow.”

Adding to the mystery are the recurring locks and keys. “And there’s a reason the rooms were locked . . . Still, the doors are locked and no one answers when we ring the little bell.” Margaret Atwood recently shared in an interview with Grant Munroe for Lit Hub: “It’s all about locks and keys, and it always has been about locks and keys.” Secrets are fascinating and beg to tell a story; they stimulate the imagination. The speaker is unable to escape. “Are you still in Omaha and is there any way you can come unlock the door?” The locks and keys by turns suppress information—little is ultimately revealed—and guard secrets, for good or evil. They fuel the curious kind of haunting that plagues and enlivens the book—nothing quite fits or opens in the way it should.

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Tony Trigilio interviewed on 2paragraphs

 

Author Tony Trigilio On ‘Inside the Walls of My Own House’

Inside the Walls of My Own House Dark Shadows

Tony Trigilio is the author of Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2. A poet and scholar, Trigilio has also written about other poets in his books Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics (2007) and “Strange Prophecies Anew”: Rereading Apocalypse in Blake, H.D., and Ginsberg (2000)

2paragraphs: Why do you think Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) is connecting with readers?

Tony Trigilio: I think the book is connecting with people for a couple different reasons. First, nearly everyone can relate to how pop culture—especially television—shapes intimate experiences with our loved ones. We’re never just passively watching with others. Instead, we’re sharing what we view. In this way, a TV show can be an intimate social occasion rather than just a visual product we consume in isolation. I should say a bit more about the background of the book before I go further. This is the second book of a multivolume poem. I intend to watch all 1,225 episodes of the old soap opera Dark Shadows, composing one sentence for each episode and shaping each sentence into verse form. Why Dark Shadows? In the first months and years of my life, I watched Dark Shadows every day with my mother, a devoted soap fan. I hardly understood what was going on—but I was certain the soap opera’s main character, the vampire Barnabas Collins, lived inside the walls of my own house, waiting for me to go to sleep so that he could bite my neck. This book has given me the space to write about memory in ways that none of my other books have. The reason for this, I think, is that the original experiences of watching the show with my mother were so intimate that they became anchors in my mind that other memories attached themselves to. Readers often tell me that this project reminds them of shows they shared with close family members. In our age of binge-watching, I’ve heard from a number of folks who’ve said my book has triggered in them a desire to write autobiographical material through the episode-by-episode lens of the favorite TV shows of their youth. I’d love to see more poems like this from others (and I’m sure these poems would affect my ongoing project, too).

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Yellow Rabbits Reviews The Demotion of Pluto: Poems and Plays by Deborah Meadows

 

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The Absence Of The Loved by Wade Stevenson Reviewed in Midwest Book Review

 
Absence of the Loved
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books
9781609642747, $16.00, www.blazevox.org 

Many poems and poetry collections focus on the presence of love, but Absence of the Loved is about that aftermath where love is gone, poetically describing the void left behind, the process of passing into something else, and what happens when transformation and change confront a relationship: "This morning we were born for something else".

Winter mornings, maddened minds, the compulsive drives of love and passion, and possession all coalesce in passionate, emotional pieces that grasp the essence of not a light romantic dream, but the agony and ecstasy of bonding with another both physically and emotionally.

From the throes of breakup and pain ("When I'm not grieving I trumpet destruction") to the inevitable progress towards a turning point where grief turns to renewal, Absence of the Loved is a poetic breakup diary like no other, chronicling the intimate passage of days and pain with the deft precision of a romantic martyr as the writer considers the absence of one with a 'penchant for parting'.

Again and again the times before departure are analyzed and probed, the impetus for change considered, and the faded spark of love from which the inevitability of leaving reviewed: "One day I will go so you will at last understand/This simplest of lessons: everything flows."

How long will loss last when "what we are is made of half of each other's wholeness"? It may not be a lifetime, but these moments are perfectly captured in a poetic gathering of experiences that intricately chronicles just what the process of and pain of letting go involves.

However, "The Absence of The Loved" is not just about loss. Although it starts that way, there is a progression, and fans of poetry will appreciate the various depths and nuances of feeling. In the end the poet transfigures his loss into a vibrant, radiant presence. The young woman that he loved becomes a symbol for "the loved". In the moving final poem "You and You Again", the circle is closed, there is no more absence --- what remains is Amor.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

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Wade Stevenson​ is interviewed on his latest book The Absence Of The Loved by Sandra Fluck.

 

Wade Stevenson and the poetry of love: A 21st century troubadour

Wade Stevenson was born in New York City in 1945 and his first book Beds (McCall Publishing Co., 1970) was a poetry best seller. Other books followed, including The Little Book of He and SheThe Color Symphonies, the award-winning Flutes and TomatoesMoon Talk, the memoir One Time in Paris, and the novel The Electric Affinities.
Wade Stevenson interviewed by Sandy Fluck
The Absence Of The Loved, your new collection of poetry, is being released by BlazeVOX in February, 2017. How would you describe this collection? What is the significance of the title?

There is a lot of meaning in the title. It’s not “one” absence, it’s The Absence. It’s a particular, well-defined, absolute “Absence.” It’s an “Absence” that everyone has experienced in their lives, because life and love always involve an absence, a sudden departure, a going away. In the same way, it’s not just any loved, it is “The Loved.” The “Loved” could be a woman or a man. It could even be a Goddess or God.

Departure, especially, an unanticipated one, always creates a terrible void, a space left behind, an absence that cries out to be filled. That’s how this book was born. That’s why poetry exists. The Absence Of The Loved ripened slowly over many years. I started it when I was living in Paris in 1969. It took all that time to find the exact words to fill up the space of a departure.

Dear You, A Memoir With PoemsThe Little Book of He and SheA Testament to Love and Other Losses; and Flutes and Tomatoes (A Memoir with Poems) are the titles of your previous books. They seem to be precedents for The Absence Of The Loved. How so? In what ways do they differ?

Of course they are linked. The common thread is love, loss, sex, absence/presence, death/life. These are universal themes but I’ve treated them differently in all my books. What changes is the language, the degree of intensity. The Little Book of He and She is more graphic in its representation of Eros. Flutes and Tomatoes is a haunting, simple story about how a young man uses the metaphor of a flute and a tomato to transcend a tragic loss. If you were to read them all, you would see they are all steps in a ladder leading up to the summit of The Absence Of The Loved.

Dear You is subtitled A Memoir With Poems. How does the memoir part of Dear You influence the poetry, or is it the other way around? Maybe it’s an interaction that is more equal? And is the writing process different when memoir is involved?

My first memoir One Time in Paris (IUniverse, 2008) was a straight literary memoir. There were no poems. It’s a great coming-of-age story that takes place in Paris in the turbulent 1960s. Dear You (BlazeVOX, 2015) is dramatic love letter addressed to one woman. I thought it might be helpful to the reader to have an accompanying text to “situate” it. The poems came first, the “memoir” later.

Which authors and books influenced the writing of The Absence Of The Loved? Your previous books?

A new book is a giving birth, it’s always a new adventure. My other books didn’t help at all. Or rather, they helped in the sense that they gave me the courage to take what was a difficult experience and to try to turn it into a transcendent one. I wanted the book to have a certain edgy tone to it so I used some popular language. I think the result is a very readable book, it has a nice progression, many gradations of thought, feeling, language, etc. It’s a different kind of poetry book.

When did you realize you wanted to write poetry? Was it a conscious decision, or did you just fall into it?

It was instinctive, like breathing in and out. It just happened. I was seven or eight years old. I taught myself to type on a Smith Corona. Writing and reading were my passions. I don’t control my writing, to a large degree it controls me. I let it happen. That also requires some courage. It requires precisely the courage to “let it happen.” The interesting question is: what is “it?” It’s interesting how I myself found out a lot about love in writing The Absence Of The Loved. And I’ve also learned new things from reader’s reactions to my book.

For example, could you share some of the things you’ve learned?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of absence and presence, plenitude and the void, negative and positive space. My book taught me this: there is really no such thing as absence, because absence, to the degree you are conscious of it, is in a state of continually becoming presence. I learned that the absence of the loved does not mean the death of the loved — it is actually the rebirth of the loved, the continuity of a presence, on a higher, more spiritual, level. To bring the loved one back by an act of remembrance is ultimately a victory over solitude.

Read the whole interview here 

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