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Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking

Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking

Colin Winborn suggested that I might enjoy Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking (Skysill Press, 2011) and he was right!

 

This thoughtful collection, which begins with an H.D. preface, ‘Better the wind, the sea, the salt, / in your eyes, / than this, this, this’, references the possibilities of loss by not confronting the weather, the unseen and unknown. In a series of succinct meditative poems, Tharp gestures towards other approaches and possibilities in any movement between two points. The poems balance short suggestive, philosophical, statements with a concrete imagery gravitated around the weather, felt as both physical and psychological, and travel.

 

Northerly

 

In conditions less

than perfect,

what I make out through

 

rain – happening a-

gain in a

slow diagonal –

 

white hearse, green graveyard,

little else

save for what isn’t.

 

Tharp avoids the pitfalls of pure abstraction by centering the poems within a knowing inner voice, and conversely avoids the downside of subjectivity by looking outwards through distance and separation.  The narrator is aware of division, of the split self, of things falling between, of small movements. The short, often understated, poems expand outwards by means of a few words, whereas the longer poems, such as ‘Chasing Landmarks’, ‘Travelogue’,  ‘Practice’, dedicated to Jack Spicer, and ‘High Rise’ impact cumulatively and succinctly. The book is a feast of composite layering, as in for example, ‘Morning (With William Bronk)’ which starts ‘The world, what we took / for the world, / is breaking. Breaking!’ and ends ‘And we are / equally alive.’ One feels blessed to encounter such acute brevity and depth. This is compelling and strong poetry.

 

Orchard

 

A god-

thought

 

field

where

 

even

rain

 

loses

heart

 

when

shadows’

 

shadows

fall

 

as they

ought.

 

 

The collection coheres and beguiles in equal measurement.

It is a remarkable achievement.

 

 

David Caddy  January 16th 2014

 

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3 responses »

  1. Hi David, Appreciate your review Shannon Tharp very much indeed. Another new poet for me! ‘Acute brevity & depth’ : you said it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Kris, Thank you. Shannon Tharp is a new poet to me too!
      The Cost Of Walking is a considerable collection and well worth investigating.

      I hope that it is a little cooler in Melbourne! Still raining here!
      Saw an otter by the river bridge as I walked briskly back from the pub.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: News Roundups – pesbo

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