Saturday, June 28, 2014

Open Letter Review of Tim Earley's "Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery"

I’d like to begin with a thank you for your time and insights, for sharing them with me and my peers. It was a real and genuine joy.
Tim, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery  is nothing short of hell-bent string band operatic. My buddy Sam read your poems aloud to the car on a daytrip to Black Mountain. How could he not raise his voice? These poems demand it. I must inspire within myself the brimstone vocality of a Primitive Baptist preacher, declaring: “I will kill you with the pivet of my cycling drum. I will kill you with the electric mouth of the sea.” 

So much motion in these poems. They teem with cycles and yonders. If these poems were an animal (and they are) they’d be a mouthful of protozoa. As I read them I get a sense of the activity of language occurring on a microscopic level. I think of how poetry is “its own microcosm, its own system of bastard hermetics.” A poet has no need, nor power to give life to a living language. I see a poet can only round it up (a real rodeo), put it under a microscope and watch it squirm.
Your poems are not all slime and shotgun shells. There are moments of real tenderness nestled in the violence. A favorite moment of mine: “A dead swallow sleeps in my brain. An angel sleeps next to the dead swallow. My dead uncle Adolphus Clementine Medina sleeps next to the angel.” These poems have a way of ending quietly, as sometimes life is quiet. It allows for a step-back, a moment of recollection akin to picking oneself off the ground and dusting off. Even in the grotesque some real beauty exists. I couldn’t forget the song of monkey-boy Richard Antwire. His death, brought about by “a variety of shame,” seems of little importance as he sings: “the green grasses, the green grasses, the miracle of sawdust particles arrayed in light at the planning mill…”  I am reminded that the ability to see the miracles of the ordinary are often gifted to those on the fringes, to the outsiders.
And speaking of outsiders, you make me feel like one. I can’t get enough. I don’t think I’ll ever know the definitions to words like cortullux, kildee, or histacured, but I question if I want to at all. The inventive language in these poems put a foreign country in dem dar hills. It looms in the rational part of the brain like a cornerstore Jabberwock. Thank you for these poems.

sinffectionately yrs,

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