The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

REVIEW: When the Gardener Has Left – KIERAN COLLIER (EMERSON COLLEGE)

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“She told me that she bought the ring

in San Francisco at an outdoor market.

I like to imagine she was watching

the Pacific hold the coast the same way

she would hold my father later that night.

My father is a shore, my mother is an ocean;

when they are together you cannot tell

where one ends and the other begins.”

I am firm believer in all poems having love in them. No matter what the subject, someone had to love the idea to give it time to be a full thought, and that takes love or at the very least, care.

Kieran Collier has written an entire book of poems that pulse with love. Whether talking about his parents, and the love they obviously shared, to talking about the disease his mother had using Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech as the catalyst, to whale ghosts (…trust me), this is a heartening collection that leaves you hopeful despite a sadness that haunts the back of your mind.

At times funny to the point of absurdity,

(“The day the Flash decided to crash my father’s second wedding nobody tried to stop him. I asked for his autograph,”) and at other times moving to the point of tears, (“My mother sings the way only a ghost can—silent. It is the loudest and most broken song.”) often doing so within the same poem, there is a delicate force behind these poems.

“I know there is power

in a name, but I don’t know

if the knowing of it fills the absence

left by a wheelchair and a tombstone.”

There are poems who’s rhythm is dictated by emotion, and it works to a dramatic effect instead of being a distraction. You can hear influences from other poets heavily in some poems, but it feels like it was done on purpose with an explanation inside the influences.

Kieran excels the most when you can hear the real emotion behind the images, and he does so on a great number of poems in this collection. You can feel the loss, and you can hope to heal with him. Loss is a powerful artist tool, one Kieran uses very well throughout this thoughtful book.

 

Reviewed by Wil Gibson for both The Poetry Question and Drunk in a Midnight Choir

About Wil Gibson

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