Trick Vessels by Andre Bagoo

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

Trick Vessels

“The poems themselves are minefields,” says Vladimir Lucien in his sx salon review of Trick Vessels, and he couldn’t be more precise. The entire review is titled “Andre, the Obeah Man”, and again, one nods reflexively with Lucien’s assessment of this debut collection, by turns ephemeral and kaleidoscopic: a certain kind of poetic magic is unfolding within, as Bagoo conducts electrifying experiments with form and feeling. Here, the poet is also a wily sorcerer, with bags of tricks and secrets of his trade that he only reveals in witty, funny, haunting increments — this collection isn’t for the rigidly traditional (or perhaps it should be, as a deterrent against stuffy poetry collections!).

Published by Shearsman Books in 2012, Trick Vessels tantalizes its reader with possibilities, moving from familiar to alien space within moments. Bagoo’s understanding of both emotional and physical landscapes — and particularly of the relationships between the two — is stunning to behold. “Visa”, an exploration of temporal shifts through an island dweller’s lens, begins with:

“for the world is defined by your island
your garden floods centuries away
over concrete jungle birds congregate
and the latitudes are crutches”

The opening poem of the collection, “The Night Grew Dark Around Us”, sounds out a powerful, near-hypnotic meditation on love, framed as it is in a series of singular yet interwoven addresses from an unnamed, possibly spectral figure. The first stanza of the poem reads:

“Let the daughter of that hibiscus say:
“His love has no end.”
Let the mother of the daughter say:
“His love has no end.”
Let the author of the mother say:
“His love has no end.”

Myriad revelations await the adventurous reader in this thoughtful, ornamented and subtle first collection by Bagoo: these are poems for journeying far, deep and in more directions than seem readily apparent.