Some years ago Ric Hool wrote a short prose piece titled ‘Two Types of Dog’ focussing on a walk on a Greek island. His ability to make the reader feel the ‘thereness’ of a place rose off the page like heat:
The dirt road pulled itself up as if it was stalking the blue sky above
A lizard, hard to distinguish from stone, didn’t even bother to scurry away. It just clenched low to the ground, trapping its shadow.
This engaging new collection of poems from Cinammon Press has, for me, that same sense of actuality:
When night squeezes light to thinness
the reed beds shake back to balance
Webs of life reshape
These lines at the end of ‘Initiation’, a poem located in the Japanese Suruga Province, have a feel of Gary Snyder about them. The reed-cutting which is described in the opening five stanzas, gives way to the weariness which ‘closes conversation’ as ‘straws are lit to burn off leeches / turgid on legs’. As the oxen, laden with cut thatch, are towed back to the village there is a sense of wholeness as Hool tells us that ‘What water has grown will keep rain out’. This oneness, this sense of partnership, is then concluded with that light being squeezed (like the water from the reeds) as the world of the reeds ‘shake back to balance’ and those webs of geometric precision and repetition ‘reshape’.
These poems give us a world of interchange as people and their landscapes emerge and spread. On the Tokaido Road a lady dances and then sits with the poet, ‘without conversation’:
I am given tart wine to drink
as if taking communion
then follow her to the ends of the Earth
The closing lines of Snyder’s ‘Above Pate Valley’ come to mind as do those of ‘Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout’:
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.’
It is no surprise that many of the poems are dedicated to individuals (Eileen Dewhurst, Suzi, Richard Downing, Phil & Val Maillard, Chris Torrance, Chris Hall, Kiki, Steephill Jack, Mikka, Lee Harwood, John Jones, Graham Hartill, Tim Rossiter, Peg, Bill Wyatt). No surprise because the landscapes and the people belong together and that ‘thereness’ is also a ‘hereness’!
Ian Brinton, 24th March 2014.