by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger
Gentle poetry does not always denote a gentle age.
Ask the poems in Richard Georges second collection, Giant, if you want confirmation of this. This book reminds us that the sea is made of tears, that a grandmother’s passing can steal your breath when you least expect it, that the “storm shreds the trees to bones, drags children / from their homes by their heels”. The wars waged on the home front of your heart and nation wear you ragged with care. Giant understands, and looks on.
If the act of witnessing was one of the main concerns of the poet’s first collection, Make Us All Islands, then it is immersion that animates the poems in Giant. See “Creation / Nowhere”, in which the speaker sheds skin, “washing my eyes clean in the briny sea”. Similarly, the opening poem from which the collection takes its name exhorts a metaphysical dismantling, a breaking down of self to allow for the plumbing of greater depths:
“Unhinge your aching limbs, rest them beside
the river, fold yourself into jars
to be opened.”
If we could but see the world, and our habitation in it, as giants do, we would live closer and more intentionally to the marrow of life. This is one of the primary invocations of Giant. Though it is gently moral, pushing the notion of goodness, a space where “God / can be found hollowing out a home in your heart”, it never veers into preachy condescension.
We will never live in a fair empire, but Giant eases us into an understanding of how to cope, and grow good things, in the uneasy islands we do have. These signposts of respite are never hidden from the reader with abstractions: they glow in the darkness like deyas do, and signal a way home that may be complex, but can be trusted. “Burn”, dedicated to poet Andre Bagoo, is one such way in the world:
“The whole damn world is alight
and hungry and nothing is ever enough —
but there is poetry, which will suffice.”
Steer your small boat in the deep waters of Giant. Richard Georges’ poems endure in, and despite, this empire, or any other.