In the dusty main streets of an unnamed West, this collection of stories features little European villages, a sanitarium in the mountains, Mounties, madwomen, long-dead gunslingers, thieves, lost children, and wolves....
|Number of Pages||:||100 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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I honestly never had the chance to read a modern poet to whom I could relate this much. I was fascinated by every single poem in "Ashland" because it all made poetic sense to me. Not to criticize other contemporary poets since certainly my literary knowledge is not good enough to read objectively some modern works; however, it is refreshing to read a poetry book with a strong common denominator among poems. Praises to Gil Adamson for she's a beautiful writer.
My grandmother is on my back, her glamorous hands slapping at my cheeks like soft gloves. I am her legs. I see forward with her eyes, while she buries her face in my long, wild hair.When I was young, she tied small gold bells to my bed to keep me awake. She ignored the neighbours like they were a truckload of pigeons. On the blackest evenings she took me to the railway tunnel to watch the burning eye of God coming. "There are no stories," she warned me, "Everything is true."- Tunnel, pg. 6* * *I have an alias I have never used. Under my pen-name I have produced nothing. This is the way it has been for years, the children mocking me as I take my leash for a walk. And now you come to knock on my door? Well, you may be lovely - you are lovely - but I cannot change now, after so long a time. The only thing I will divulge is the name of the dirty coward who used to live here.- Coward, pg. 13* * *Dead men go along the roadin twos and threes,waving goodbye with their toes.The scaffold folds into a suitcase!"Will wonders ever cease?" we ask,and the hangman, who is blind,kindly and richly says, "Yes."- Rattling By, pg. 34* * *They enter the foothills looking for her.The dogs run before them.In a snow-covered alpine meadowthey pause, breathing vapour.For once, the dogs shut up.A nesting bird erupts at them,drags a wing deceitfully behind.The hounds are on it in a second.The hidden nest is not so secret now;little eggs feel the chill already.Omens like this are rare,and the men chuckle, not to each other.She cannot escape them now.- Hidden, pg. 49
I was doing a trial of an ebook service called Freading and their poetry offerings included many selections from a couple of publishers. This was one of them. It had snakes on the cover and mentioned prose poems, westerns and blood in the description. So I downloaded it to try out the process. Then I started reading some of the poems. The first one was just okay but the second one had the phrases "The river slapped the fields away" and then "Today wind rushes the empty house, licks the dinner bell inside and out. We settle down to wait. / Our lives are not what we expected. / We eat little crisp buns under the awning and peep out at the sun, the big white fury booming around in heaven."Yessssss.Lots of good little descriptions abound in the first, prosy, section. Prose poems are sometimes difficult for me to read because my eyes start to skim. And they can start to just sound like propositions for an atmosphere, or jottings in a dream journal. But these held together because they seemed to be talking to one another.Then there's a really stunning long poem called "Here's Your Money". Then I started to wonder if this was only the second Canadian poet I've read (beyond Mags Atwood). Euphoria kind of broke the tone of the book, it wasn't really set in the world of the other poems.
Like her THE OUTLANDER, a stunning knit of words beautifully strung together to give a strong sense of place (a 'place,' in fact, that takes me home to Montana as Adamson is a native of the Alberta/Saskatchewan west.)As she says in her Afterword, many of the poems found inspiration in books she had read and written. "Mary" immediately brought THE OUTLANDER to mind and while the poetic Mary's end was different than the end of the fictional Mary, it is easy to see that the one helped influence the other. These poem, some in outright blank verse but having the lilt of rhythm and the esoteric word combinations that create the splendor of poetry, possess strong placement in rugged sparse natural settings and give us characters with the spare-seeming emotions which aren't spare at all, but concise, knife-sharp, and unapologetic. There is no escaping her ambience and her word pictures are brilliant, sometimes surprising and always incredibly haunting and wistful.I wish there was more of her. I read her and find myself there in the exacting country, awed and grateful for her clear eye.
Pointless suffering, pointless cruelty, pointless violence. It leaves me to wonder what was going on in Adamson's life when she wrote these poems. If I had not read her novel, Outlander, first, I probably would read no more of her work, feeling she is far to bleak for me to stomach. I love dystopian novels and worlds, but I like to feel that there is a point to survival.I give Ashland three stars, not because it isn't wonderful poetry, but because I just didn't enjoy reading it very much. I preferred Outlander, which is more hopeful. I know having read that, that Adamson has another side to her, where suffering can be redemptive and the weak can grow strong and learn to survive. However, it is quite clear that Adamson has a real gift for language. Her imagery is utterly unique and arresting, and she has a well developed ability for world building, imbuing it with a dark, gothic, violent mood. The mood, for me though, is a bit to bleak. In Ashland, she makes Cormac McCarthy look like an optimist.
A very thoughtful collection by a very thoughtful and talented poet!
Loved it! Great after reading the Outlander by same author. Gritty and substantial poetry.