Dying is an art Peter Siedlecki doesn’t want to master, yet such an exhilarating set of dialogues should be embraced, again and again. Going with the Flow is a book addressed to anyone who has concern over his own “going.” A poet-philosopher studying aging from the inside-out, Siedlecki explores the concept of old age in a vein similar to Plato’s dialectical method. “Swallow your made meanings,” the poet insists. There are moments of great humor, along with expressions of frustration and resignation. The realm of the earthly body is ever in flux, and treated with care in every situation and scenario.
Crystalline would describe the language of Peter Siedlecki's Going with the Flow, an outstanding set of poetic essays chockfull of surprises.
With wry honesty and impressive skill, Peter Siedlecki contemplates aging and what will follow it. Yet the inevitably dark end of the life flow is punctuated here by the light of stars and beautiful women, jazz greats and baseball virtuosi, and the many vivid musings that make this book a celebration of life.
In memory, there was someone who asked me: do you know Peter Siedlecki, he has a big beard, and I heard he was one of the Road Vultures, and he is from the east side? I said, no, I didn’t know him, and the friend of mine who did said, you should. Fair enough. A head’s up. Then in the classroom where we both were poets in training, I had my ears peeled. In memory, I remember a line of one of Peter’s poems or it was a poem’s title, either or: the need to name things. Over these decades this line rings as clear as any poetry I have heard since. Need and naming are the poetics of Peter Siedlecki. I like that and Peter’s poems are brim full of poetry serving the need of living using understandable forms, i.e., words. “The thing is here,” he writes in Thing. It sure is! So, as the poet said, go, go with the flow.
— Michael Basinski
In these love poems to life, Peter Siedlecki does not merely go with the flow; he becomes the flow. Hearing the voices from the sea, he does not, like Prufrock, drown; rather, the voices cause him to love the beauties of his late years, “as only an old man could/when confronted by sea mist.” He learns: “Despite my despising,/I learn in the accumulation of/passing moments/to accept the thing,/to acclimate/to adapt.” Adapt, yes—but there is no compromise. He challenges life, and with rich humor. As he contemplates the end of magic in the death of a white pelican from the oil spill of human greed, he nevertheless also contemplates and meditates upon “once more/appearance and reality” and invites us into this process. Denise Levertov said that “contemplate” and “meditate” “connote a state in which the heat of feeling warms the intellect. We leave the volume thus warmed, readier to confront our own passing years—as he writes at the end of the book, “what each of us needs/to make the darkness pass.”
Peter Siedlecki is Professor Emeritus and also currently holds the title of Poet in Residence at Daemen College in Amherst, NY. He is director of the Readings at the RIC poetry series and director of the Catherine Parker Artists’ Salon. He has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in both Poland and the former German Democratic Republic. His previous collection of poems is titled Voyeur.
· Paperback: 112 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-190-0
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