At once a book of ideas and a book of practicalities, bheid, by John Martone, illustrates how one of the finest writers in the short form continues to push boundaries.
There is a narrative of sorts about building: building a boat, a house, a tree, a body, a dream. These are poems of correspondences, parallels between 'the real' and the contemplative.
If you could build an abstraction with a two by four, John Martone would be your man. Not that this is what John Martone is about - he decidedly is not.
But he could be if he wanted to.
In some ways, I feel frankly out of my depth here and so simply will let the work wash over me (again and again and again) and take in what I might. bheid, the word, John notes as proto-Indo-European, meaning to split open (as a tree), and being a root word for the English boat.
There is much to do among titles and the bodies of the poems, some standing away, some at one with the work. The poems are challenging in their very openness, and herein is the boundary pushing.
This is 50 plus pages of brief poetry well-worth connecting to. Here are 4 pieces I keep returning to:
we're all adrift
You can purchase Bheid for $7 at this site. If you'd like to sample it first, you can read it in its entirety here, because John is so incredibly generous.
Speaking of generosity and sharing, you can get another kind of glimpse at John and what moves him via this incredible youtube video, which he shared via email recently, about a woman living on her own in the Siberian wild. It is entitled Surviving in the Wilderness, and here it is in its entirety, 36 minutes in all.
It says all there is to say about human beings living on the planet, giving a greater context for what it is we do everyday. Don't miss it.
And thanks, John. For everything.
(For those wishing to know more about the lives of Agafia and her incredible family, there is a full length out-of-print book (and out of reach in the rare books market, price-wise) readily available through our national library interloan system.
Photo by Lisa Olonynko
nothing at all
but a calm heart
and cool air
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