Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chapbook Review. Paul Harrison's meet me at gethsemane

I had made a rule for myself that this blog would be a simple little repository for my poetry, with a little aside from time to time, but I’ve decided bend it a little and share my thoughts on some things that catch my attention.

I was asked to write a blurb for Paul Harrison’s first chapbook “meet me at gethsemane” But I’ve enjoyed reading it so much I have decided to share a short review of it here.

meet me at gethsemane

Paul Harrison is at times the propagandist of his own opinions and maybe that’s just the anti-venom needed to take on the irresistible allure of blind faith. He doesn’t test a statement for truth, there’s no hesitation or disguised plea for corroboration in these poems. Self-consciousness is stripped away then returns to dance in your lap.

later she says
you know doll
you’re not
to touch
& i smile
& say
i didn’t know
but really
i knew
& all along
what went down
& what it was
i did to her
& you

~from “doll”

Simple language, natural as speech serves as a vehicle for a psychologically dynamic exploration of absurd social rituals and sensation.

The givens of life are what they are, often enough our lives are a dark and obscure mission. These poems, with their blunt, claustrophobic lines and lack of artifice, stark paralysis pressed against the stasis of the page are life affirming, they bring us into a direct encounter with lacerating relationships which layer rather than expose. They invite us to celebrate and grieve our shared isolation and the failure of responsibility.

the grown-ups
taught us kids
property rights
are based
on violence

~from “watching another ad for fridge and washer city”

Even the literary references, though many, are pared down, splayed and pinned to the page.

and of course
a rose is a rose
to overlook
or fathom

~‘all at sea’

Someone pointed out to me recently, the Latin origins of passion stem from passio ; to suffer, to endure. compassion being, to endure with. The delusion that the creative act is somehow redemptive excludes. This collection showcases the irreparable, it encourages trust because it doesn’t try to hide its purposes.
What did Jesus meet at Gethsemane? a final test of faith, prayer, the first consent of divine love, or a torturous death, an empty tomb and three screaming women running in terror? No god, no loyal followers, but leaving “mark lost in the forest” to invite us all to walk in his teacher’s shoes?

Paul wants us to meet him in Gethsemane, I might have resisted if it weren’t for the pleasure I take in the final poem in the book, all four words;


Then, there is this, from “some things are known” which I think sums ‘it’ up quite nicely.

having lived fourteen thousand times longer than
the flies that congregate around this lake
cannot be remembered or numbered
only repeated
cannot be described or shared
only encountered

~Brilliant! I’m there, with bells on.

Go get yourself a copy from the most excellent and quite new Mulla Mulla Press here; Mulla Mulla Press


Coral Carter said...

Thank you Ms Joy for the erudite and insightful review of Harrison's meet me at gethsemane.
Coral Carter

Amanda Joy said...

A pleasure Ms Carter. I should also have stated how much I love the cover & its photography. You do so good that thing that you & mullamulla do :)

Will Windhover said...

Poets, philosophers and prophets almost always write/speak in "As" when they really mean "As if".

Harrison seems(filtered through your observation, of course)doing the former mode. Denotation, even via metaphor, is his truth.

Gethsemane was the garden of Christ's agony. Was his a creative, redemptive act? By appropriating that locale of angst does Harrison imply that passion and its purported ends?

Ah, the reply to that is another reading of Paul's poems, a review to respond to your review:

'stalactite meeting stalagmite'

bruce_dorlova said...

"The delusion that the creative act is somehow redemptive excludes."... - beautiful to see a nail so sweetly hit.

"truth is
not a thing..."

i bought th book. tks f'th heads-up.

Hospitable Scots Bachelor said...

Jealous, very jealous!