The Red Ceilings Press chapbooks are delightful things (with an admission of interest, having the pleasure of being previously published by them, but also collecting and reading many): they are usually, though not always, quick reads; being focused, they are immediate/impacting – although as Ian McMillan observes in his back-cover blurb for this one from Seed, ‘Here is simplicity that, the harder you look at it, becomes endless and profound.’
They can be read in a moment, as I did today: before going out for a walk, the post arrived with ‘I Remember’ which set up expectations, and on my return I sat in the garden and read these autobiographical snapshots in a perfect pause from all else.
The poems are split into two sections, each using the ‘I remember’ list poem device – or whatever you want to call it – and the repetitions build in their collective reminiscences. The first section is autobiographical across time, recalling childhood experiences as well as growing up and beyond. They are candid, at times suggestive rather than stated, and are familiar and surprising so also relatable and engaging. I won’t quote because they should be read in that whole moment, but I like the yearning for sideburns and the recall of being read extracts from a pulp crime novel. And of course, Elvis gets a mention.
The second section is about a special friendship – In Memoriam Gerald – and this is perhaps more expansive about Seed’s life as writer and other lifelong shapings, and it is affecting as well as poignant.
I don’t know that these were written in lockdown (note: since writing I have found out they weren’t, though my following point remains one I want to state), but I do know this has been a period where many will have had the time and need to reflect on their own lives, finding how personal re-discovering makes sense of the isolations, and taking a different kind of communion in exploring one’s own thoughts internally as well as sharing with others. That’s what I suggest readers can and will take from this.
And if I leave it there I am being faithful to the simple spirit of this fine collection, which I do recommend. You can read more details and get it here.