Monday, January 26, 2009

James Dewar -- The Garden In the Machine

Three times I have read this book of poetry, and three times I have felt refreshed, as if a spring shower has rinsed cynicism from my grimaced forehead. Dewar’s poetry reminds me so much of the exquisite simplicity of Carl Sandburg. It reflects an ordinary life lived extraordinarily.

Dewar’s poetry is as accessible as a jar of jam in a pantry; he is a poet with a day job. It is from this life that Dewar has woven poems as rich and beautiful as a silk tie, or as robust as an angler’s bucket of bass destined for the bellies of his children.

I am especially fond of his poem, Irving Layton, (my mentor) which I like to imagine ignited Dewar into the wide-open whirled of poetry with lusty abandonment; “When I first met him I was young, a boner with a body attached…” I suspect that has been the case for Dewar ever since.

Dewar is the host of the monthly poetry reading series, Hot-Sauced Words, where he engages the audience with “lusty abandonment” into the saucy wonders of poetry-play. It is transparent to see that poetry arouses Dewar, his own and others when they pass into his enlarged circumference. He is naughtily erotic without succumbing to the precious or pornographic. Dewar reflects a tenderness of spirit sans fragility.

When he writes on any subject, it is from his direct experience, as if his bones, blood and body, all sensitive, the world sensitive -- everything that touches him, he touches. There is no show-off here -- hey look everyone -- look what my imagination can do. One needs only to read him to see what he can do, and it is formidable.

He has that indulgent weakness of poets -- to invent words, but does so appropoetically, submerging them within the poem with such suppleness that it is noticed as a glint in the eye, rather than a glaring spotlight.

Poet, Allan Briesmaster, accurately portrays Dewar’s collection of poetry as a smorgasbord. It is indeed a nutritious read, fat free, yet deliciously spicy and robustly healthy to the spirit. Dewar’s poetry is lush without being extravagant. It is the kind of poetry that I would love to invite to the dinner table of friends and family.

Leaving The Edge is a poem that gave me chills, perhaps because I had a similar experience, the immediate termination of a future, or mutilation thereof, medical machinery, cool rooms, soothing personnel and in Dewar’s case “the pain in my chest like a bus full of everyone I have wounded tipping over on me.” Dewar describes the near-death experience with calmness, not as a movement into The Light as movies portray, but that the paddles exploded him out of the blackness into the floresensual light of our day-to-day existence.

I have carried this book around me in my backpack for several weeks now, showing it to a couple friends who have never bought a book of poetry, nor likely ever will, but it is important that they hear this voice, well, important to me to share something. The book contains an amount of wealth that sharing it doesn’t deplete it, but earns interest.

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