Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: Simon Perchik - The Osiris Poems

The Osiris Poems by Simon Perchik (2017)
published by Box of Chalk Press
review by r soos

"Take every thought captive" is a spiritual ritual that is easy to say, but next to impossible to accomplish. Simon Perchik is not accomplishing this either - but I bring it up because his poetry allows my mind to move more slowly and contemplate. Discovering the logic behind Perchik is a joyful experience. 

I have been reading Perchik seriously since 1985 (Who Can Touch These Knots - Scarecrow Press). Before that I would see his work in various magazines and read him with the same joy I read every other poem. When I sat down with the poems in Who Can Tie These Knots I found a puzzle that I could not put down. In the same era there was a toy called the Rubric's Cube. A solvable puzzle. With time and patience and a lot of re-reading I found Perchik was improving my ability to slow my brain down. 

A very simple explanation would be like this: "I am driving, watching my speed, looking out of mirrors and the front windshield at the same time, watching other vehicles, checking out the clouds, spacing out to a song on the radio for a few seconds, braking for a dog on the road up ahead, etc" - never ending. And that experience was 30 seconds long. It happens at home too. I set up the teapot, get the baby into her crib, return to the kitchen, sit down to do the bills, and the baby starts crying. Then the teapot goes off. My brain makes snap decisions to shut off the damn teapot first, even while thinking how nice it would be to be on a beach in Tahiti while running to grab the baby and return to make the tea while holding the baby. All this brain activity within 30 seconds.

Disconnected ideas that "work". The brain is capable. And that brings us back to Perchik. His writing mastery is taking two, sometimes three disconnected ideas and bringing them together to show compatibility and harmony. He uses the linguistic ability of the brain to accomplish this. Sometimes he'll leave out a verb, or a noun - and the brain compensates for this experience. This is a powerful poetic feature because it allows me, as reader, to become a creative partner in the process. I am totally absorbed in each poem for four or five minutes, taking "every thought captive" in order to establish meaning for myself.

Perchik, I am sure, would consider this a success. He chooses not to dictate the reader's experience. He offers no introduction - no title to "guide" your thought process - and never offers a conclusion. Each work is obviously complete and well thought out, but never moralized or presented as a completed whole. Perchik allows me as the reader to complete the whole for myself.

Poetry books are short - and I always feel like the best review for a book of poetry is the book itself. If you are a participatory reader who is not looking for self-help guide, then Perchik is a powerful and wonderful writer to explore. His logic is superb, and by learning to participate in his work I feel my logic has improved. I can say definitely that my power of perception and participation is improved when I experience Perchik. I know you are waiting for me to shut up and let you examine some of Perchik's writing form the Osiris Poems. Fair enough:

"there's now in writing where light
will slow down and the days take forever" 

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