Thursday, May 24, 2007

Review: Growing Late

Growing Late
by Tom Clausen
edited by John Barlow
copyright 2007

Snapshot Press
Liverpool, UK
ISBN: 1-903543-13-4
$14.00 USD $17.00 CAN
5 x 7.75 inches, 80 pp, perfect bound

Growing Late is the latest masterwork for Tom Clausen and edited by John Barlow. Winner of the Snapshot Press Contest for tanka, the physical production values are elegant, understated, and classy. The tanka contained within the book are all winners, with each poem displayed one per page on crisp white paper. Growing Late is a highly recommended addition to your tanka collection.

Clausen’s opening poem is the perfect poem to begin the collection:

my wife asks
what it is that I want—
there it is, that question
not even I
can answer

What follows are still more questions, answers, discoveries, and mysteries as the author grows old and feels the lateness of his hour.

all these years
in one house, one job
one town and in me—
too many changes to fathom
as I sweep away autumn leaves

we work briskly
into the momentum of the day
a long list of what to do,
once all there was
was to fall in love

This awareness of the passing of time and of things–and relationships–lost includes a melancholy nostalgia with a tinge of bitterness.

for years I had desire
to purchase things
that reminded me of my childhood
but now, even that
is gone

wondering if this
is what my parents felt
in their own time
seeing a better past
slip ever farther behind

Poem after poem demonstrates the mastery of a highly skilled poet willing to engage the unsentimental realities of his existence.

so much to do
I sit here
doing nothing—
below zero outside and
so much blowing snow

lunar eclipse
it comes to me
what is wrong at home—
something I did
or didn’t do

Each poem has the fluid lines and solid grace of a sculpture. With the same sense of immovable permanence as a block of granite, they document the swiftly fleeting passage of our lives. Clausen is the rare artist that can make stone float. For that reason there is really nothing for a reviewer to say, all that is necessary is to open the book and let the poems spill forth at random, each one saying more about the poet’s skill than any reviewer ever could.


M. Kei
Chesapeake Bay, USA
20 March 2007

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