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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Estuaries, poems by Jason Kirkey

When I reviewed Songs from a Wild Place by Jason Kirkey, I quickly connected with the search dedicated “To anyone who ever thought they could change the world with their art.” Although my poems won't change the world, I do believe poetry can make a difference, and in Estuaries, Jason makes a difference by showing similarities between our lives and the natural world.

In the Preface, the poet and editor/publisher of Hiraeth Press launches his life theme, saying, “The poems in this book are an attempt to speak in a common tongue with mountains, rivers, and forests. Too often poetry is thought of as the domain of human creativity with its source in the depths of the imagination. We use it to speak of the world, but not to the non-human world – let alone with it. The poems in Estuaries suggest that speech and poetry are fundamentally rooted in the ecosystem – the detritus of fallen leaves, the curvature of a river bend, and the sound of rain on a heron’s wing. All of this might be regarded as the speech of the Earth.”

The poem “Estuary” also speaks of this desire as “I too must be an estuary of confluent tides – / this earth-body of antlered thoughts,/ the decay of leaves: my branching mind./ Tumbling with stones and salmon toward the sea,/ the rivers of the Earth move through me.”

Such a strong sense of connection cannot help but see “Ravens Through Cedar Trees,” who “carry the morning on their backs,” or hear in the poem “Bird Watching” as “A cacophony swooped through the air;/ the black feathered shapes of crows/ against the overcast sky which woke me./ The weather report said: rain and crows/ and autumn thoughts this morning.”

While my poems written in and after Living in the Nature Poem, which Jason Kirkey edited and published, have tended more and more toward spiritual and biblical connections, Jason seeks “What Is Written” in the “line of the falling leaf” or the heart-like “apples, plump and ripe” that “hang beating in the foliage of branches.”

That poem, "What Is Written," also gives a glimpse of the compost pile sometimes needed to compose poems where “After so many lines of poetry/ the self cracks open to spill blood like nectar –/one line is all it takes the leaf/ before the heart kneels swooning in ferns/ and feeds the tree its essence.” These poems and the creative photographs of James Liter enhance that essence and feed it back to us with beauty.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and poet-author of Living in the Nature Poem and Outside Eden

Estuaries, paperback

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