Strange Arts & Visual Delights
Recently I exchanged books with Ethan Unklesbay, a poet I’ve not met in the flesh but whom I’ve encountered in a Facebook group. He runs a Substack site, (Almost) Daily Mormon Poetry, where he just published a brief appreciation of my chapbook, Night Weather.
Our projects are similar in some respects. Both are self-published and both are tied to online projects. In his case, many of the poems in Dust have been or will be published on his Substack; in my case, the poems came from my early, happy days on Twitter, beginning in December 2008. (For those who are curious, I left it years before Elon Musk took over.)
The comments below are expanded slightly from comments I sent to Ethan. Please direct comments and questions to email@example.com.
"Pluck"—This poem is an imaginative take on a New Testament injunction, to pluck out the offending eye, and on the healing offered by Christ. The poem is amusing—the plucked out eye, let loose on the world, “Rolled under open skirts—and gritty: “He climbed into my eye socket, / Got down on his hands and knees, / And scrubbed.” It ends with the warmth of healing love.
"The death of a scientist"—The poem is amusing and imaginative; it reminds me a bit of C. S. Lewis. I like the phrase "malleable light"—a fine way of evoking the differentness of reality for the dead. The scientist has a severe case of déformation professionnelle (a phrase I was taught by student at the University of Poitiers early in my mission) that keeps him from understanding the grand possibilities of being dead: “He was in the middle of testing his fifth / Spirit World Hypothesis.” The poem reminds me, in a good way, of Scott Hales’ book,. Hemingway in Paradise.
"I'm sorry I didn't know...."—The dominant metaphor—a brain aneurysm is likened to a gunshot wound to the head—is startling and effective. After that, the three concluding lines stranded on the following page seem anticlimactic, but do provide a needed ending.
"Carmody Sagers"—I like how Ethan handles the syllabic lines—the three line stanzas have four syllables in the first line, six in the second, and two in the last line. The poem handles the near-cliches of Christian imagery in a fresh, understated, emotionally genuine way.
Ethan is offering his chapbook for $5, including postage. The best way to get in touch with him is through his email, firstname.lastname@example.org. The quickest way to access his poems is to follow him at ethanunklesbay.substack.com.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.