Saturday, March 7, 2020

Great Reads

As we remain self-quarantined, one of the best ways to treat ourselves is to read.

MEMORIES LOOKING THROUGH A SCREEN DOOR by Gerald Bigelow is a collection of poems that are a quiet protest against racism, a tribute to loved ones, a snapshot of communities, a history of time and place, an exploration of spirituality, and ultimately, the inevitability of aging.

Read them for the beauty of language, and lines that shatter you like ones from Must where a circus parade goes through town and “lions reach out/paw the air/create a fearful silence.”

The accompanying illustrations make a great companion to each section to the text. In his early years, he shows the precariousness of the world in which he lived, where fires erupted often. In poem #6, Bigelow writes, “I guess it was just the cost of doing business” of the the Plastics Factory fire, and “in those days people just died early.” “And they didn’t complain because they didn’t know any better.”

Bigelow points out how “grown folks give you directions… but “rarely do they give instruction on the safest way to get there.” Each poem in this collection of 87 has its own power. One that speaks loudest to me are Time Knows, in which “time knows the river, the same river flows/neither greeting/nor bidding farewell.”

Read them for their exploration on race, in It no longer matters, where Bigelow explores how “Your 1950s and my 1950s were not the same.” And finally, read these poems for the universal truth of growing older. “[in the mirror] I look and see lines and creases/ must be some kind of flaw in the glass.”

Happy Reading!

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