Friday, October 10, 2008

Stylus Review : Slow Motion

Patricia Prime has also review Slow Motion : The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack in the current issue of Stylus Magazine. A lengthier and more literary review, she gives ample space to discussing the form and content from various angles. I am grateful for her deep appreciation for what I was trying to accomplish with Slow Motion .

She quotes a number of the poems to illustrate the points she makes.

"Slow Motion is a collection of haiku and tanka, interspersed with narrative that has many of the characteristics that are the essence of good writing: concise expression, clarity, sensory immediacy, an allusive quality of hinting at more than is directly stated, a preference for specifics and concrete images rather than generalities, a lightness of touch, a willingness to share the fundamental realities of experience, and an ability to communicate with others. The book is about M. Kei’s life on a skipjack fishing vessel in Chesapeake Bay. Kei takes readers on a journey that paints a vivid picture of live as a skipjack crewman.

"The poetry in this collection shows an intensely lived connection to the natural world. It deals with personal experience and emotions not in isolation; the personal is not expressed against a decorative background of natural imagery, but the two are intimately interwoven.

"Kei brings a contemporary feel to the tanka form that encapsulates the qualities of timelessness, poignancy and simplicity that can give tanka a sense of being lived by the reader. Whether it’s a description of the skipjack:

the old lady
wants a new dress:
five patches
in her sail
and more needed

Off Worton Creek

"or that sense relaxation that can follow after setting sail and is profoundly evoked in this haiku:

sails set
a deckhand
studies law

off Thomas Point Light"


"The narrative sections nicely complement the tanka. Like the tanka, there is a strong sense of personal engagement with seascape, history and personalities that pervades the narrative. Kei’s is poetry of locality, a range of history, and the constant in the relationships between narrative and poem is the poet himself. He imbues his scenes with a sense of spirit and mystery. And despite this much personalised relationship with the sea, his main concern is to bring the beauty of this world to the reader. One needs to reach beyond the confines of the short poem in order to fully achieve the necessary imaginative vision to express the history, the feelings of place, and the hardships of life at sea, and to find those anchors or signposts to help us navigate our way through.

"Slow Motion is a collection that maps a personal territory, but also addresses themes that are of universal concern. It is unusual in being a successful amalgam of haiku, tanka and narrative, with each demonstrating its particular strength."

Thank you Pat, and Stylus Journal!


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