: Review: crudely mistaken for life: by Wolfgang Carstens.
A first book of poetry by this Canadian author, demonstrates the many ways we deny death in a world obsessed by our very fears. At just under a hundred pages of sparse wording, this well crafted tome offers a frontal view of existence in a medium of cyclical death. It is a primal teaching of appreciation for those who would care to fully live, rather than end living at the front door of the store.
“Beds are staging grounds for graves/slumber is dress rehearsal for death”
Two 'D' words dominate, nay, permeate the cascading columns of dire thoughts, page after page. Dead and dreaming, and yet the point becomes sharper as the dirge of despair settles around the reader's ears; oh yes! Despite the exposure to unvarnished realism of end of life scenario..each emotional sequence and its natural consequence rests full weight on moral ground aiming for the light of conscience. Ultimately the book remains a testament to personal responsibility..
If at first I fell into an overwhelming sense of heaviness, it was for the very weight of the unadorned biographic context. Once I sank into Wolfgang' s extended message of larger effect, raising the drapes of preconception, to allow myself to drift into a state of gratitude. Truth may best be served cool; though one hundred pages are lightly peppered with bullets of “bullshit”and “wrecking balls to swing in our direction”..respect for language and integrity underline Carstens' poetry.
For art' s sake brings to mind the purity of selection disturbed only by the gun which tears the natural order. Man, the link which breaks the whole chain.
A palpable northern climes mentality permeates the casually woven threads of stories of the wilds of Alberta or British Columbia. Be it Scandinavia or Siberia, that clean cut nihilism seems to cool the texts of writers who have known the long winters of life wherever they have parked their keyboards.. like Lapp, Mongolian or Inuit tales which carry an undisguised truth about the more brutal elements facing birth onward, each unpainted face stares out of this body of writing to remind the reader of the value of the moment. And this is the hard won strength of the book, wherever scribed.
When I say that this book must be felt aloud, I fully mean voiced, not as a craft, but as declarations of love for a life so oft denied to self or other between punishing silence and emotional pollution.
Evocative pictures paint the contrasts in parenting styles. Love makes its appearance at bedsides and graveside. Regret must find its uneasy place between tenderness and failure, it's all there. Humor sneaks in “drama of flesh” 6 snow balls play out the lives of predictable marital imperfection. This book is a microcosm of a finite species marching through infertile fields on its way to self annhilation.
Notes on Seed depicts the ghosts at the reins of this ride we call family life, giving way to a slovenly grip on responsibility. Every social issue laid flat in short stanzas, not a word wasted..several decades of dying culture examined in the parameters of one snuff film. The author drives the blade upon habits and addicts sold by the zealous media, by greedy industry, by lazy conscience.
“as time wages war upon my flesh/ and my organs threaten mutiny” shake up the flat-lining perception of well being. The author throws a few bricks at religious constructs and familiar expectations in the quotidian theater we call living in the living rooms where we cajole, placate or hide from certain death. Where we reinvent joy temporarily to perpetuate the hormonal cycle of acceptable , response to surroundings. In death and chocolate true love is revealed above all notions; the boy, the woman, the bugs, all defy fleshy limitations. this is a story of intense awareness that sticks to the plexus.
The personal reveals the universal condition, Carstens seriously makes use of the literary right to uncover ignorant bliss..to disturb the endemic monotony of a replicated global market of spent response. In that, he mocks the very poet within “ we were happy without word/ without poems/without you.”
Though one look at the repetitive cover design of arty skulls may precipitate cultish prejudice, the old adage avers true here as well. Peek past the emptiness of the brown graphics and discover a shaky sanity rendered in less than strange realism. Epic Rites has delivered yet another grounded, solid and ethical piece in Wolfgang Carstens' book of poetry.