This new chapbook by Gillian Prew is outrageously good. Prew takes the most depressing of subject matter and puts her life in it by writing a new angel into the darkness and mourning. The series is disconnectedness, the lack of connection. The problem of modern man is an ontological sense of missing autochthonousness and belonging deeper than the trivial Sartrean Lack.
Flat, lungless: all is image,
else it is forgotten
like most memories, and remembrance
mostly a betrayal anyway.
sets the pace for a collection that explores the pointless splashes of existence we drop into the darkness
The lifted moment of the indelible; the mortal tattoo
that visits the eyes and the foul shine of yesterday’s stars.
Meaning rests a fathom below the surface, and I flotsam
on strange days breathing like the leaf on a small flower.
All without point or meaning in the fundamental sense of purpose, meaning just the pointless dance of the arbitrary spread of the seed, dull dissemination that leads nowhere.
The book ends fittingly, with as touch almost of female vanity as the last drop in the bucket of nothingness, and yet a consolation
I like my skin – its mild caramel in winter;
a summer tint that resists a cold mistake.
It speaks with the tongue of the wilderness
and does not hide from the ruins. The alarm
is that there will be too much to hate: a time
when my eyes might collapse like new mourners
at the first realisation of the graveside.
This is the positive message dropped at the end, the body has good bits, and the writer too does not need to hide from the fragments Prew is shoring here against her ruins (being thoroughly modern I am referring to Natalie Merchant here, not any dead poet).
The book is a series of poems that runs through images of the dust and decay waiting us to wind up here, the bone we should not disdain, the depressing affection for decay and death. Life sucks and there’s nothing wrong with it, says Prew. I agree. But the message isn’t much when it comes to poems, the words are what counts. As I have said before, and as I shall say again, even to the point of frankly nagging, Prew is the best living poet. Get the book here.