‘So, Rise’ by John Goodby – Red Ceilings Press

This line

‘…Poet, how strong
have you sung an ocean?’

best reflects how I have swum to the plentiful sounds of these poems as much as it affirms the strength of their singing in response to the writer’s rhetorical question.

On my first read of another fine Red Ceilings Press collection, it was this hearing throughout that engaged, poem after poem. It was an important reaction, taking to heart the John Berryman quote at the book’s beginning

‘These poems are not meant to be understood, you understand’

though I know this can’t be true: not entirely because there is always an urge despite the tongue-in-cheek suggestion.

At times, these compact poems sound like the formulation of collage, ideas found in the noise of riffed references as in Debris. But more often, I am comforted (never terrified) by the control of vowels in a poem like The Needles

‘Fell cloud greys, sky-wool
stitch-millions, they spool
the unseen whole, control
through nose and lanolin

purl. Scare like a yarn
spun furled on the one
dive I did, and did ground
on colour, red and’

Yet for all the soothing beauty of what the reader constantly hears, there is also a concern for how language does or does not work, how the poet knits ideas together to reflect the uncertainty of all we try to understand and explain. Therefore, throughout the poems there are references such as doggerel, murmurs, metaphor, simile, ohms, verb, rhetoric, library. There is much more, and I should contextualise some of these words, for example

‘Mint library leather’
‘sweet murmurs’
‘felt-tip verb’
‘clear simile of / volatile’

and so on…

Yet this seems more an aside brought on by that inevitable urge. Better to listen within the sound of ‘O poet’ and another vowelsong line like

‘Anyone could show how love has me now’

1 thought on “‘So, Rise’ by John Goodby – Red Ceilings Press

  1. Hi Mike,

    I have some comments about your review of So, Rise – it reminds me of my collection Solar Cruise (2020, Shearsman).
    Be inserting to share my thoughts with you.


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