Nekhau reviewed by Joseph Schreiber

It was fantastic to see Nekhau reviewed by Joseph Schreiber at his website – roughghosts! Joseph is a wonderful, thoughtful reviewer; as he states early in review he is ‘quite comfortable with simply allowing myself to respond or, as I suggested when I set out to review Bone Ink, write through the experience of reading a collection.’

For a collection like Nekhau this is a perfect way to engage with the work, the poems are meant to work with each other and create connections and friction. As JS points out in the review there are three sections in the book and they’re quite different: ‘Nekhau is divided into three sections—End, Nekhau, Future—and to move from one to another there is a sense of a change of environmental awareness. The first and longest section, “End,” seems to speak to an abstracted space in which corporeal and chimerical worlds meet; a dream-like quality infuses the poems. The central section which opens with the title poem, “Nekhau”, a piece that also appears in fragments sprinkled throughout the book, holds to a more immediate domesticity and familial themes, again with an otherworldly tint, while many of the poems in the final part, “Future,” are set in locations abroad or otherwise marked by an a away-from-homeness.’

I can hardly begin to say how much I appreciate a reading that takes so much time and care, that is willing to feel the way the various parts of a collection interact. The interaction between poems is an important and, this seems almost too obvious to say, essential part of the experience of creating a collection of poetry. As the poems come together for a collection I find myself starting to see them in new ways, what they can be together is always very different to the way I see them individually. I believe an incredibly important part of both building and experiencing a collection is in this sensation of interplay between poems. A collection is much more than a book of individual poems, part of what the poet is (hopefully) always trying to do is explore the friction between poems, the connections, the way poems are able to build on each other over the duration of a collection.

It was also great to see how the review picked up on two other elements I felt were really important as I was working on this collection:

1) ‘Swimming through the collection, offering a shimmering thread of connection, are fish—real and talismanic alike. The “nekhau” of the title are small metal fish-shaped amulets created by Ancient Egyptian craftsmen to be attached to a loved one’s hair as protection against drowning. These charms are echoed explicitly and implicitly throughout’

2) ‘The lyric “I,” then, carries the capacity to speak for any of us, our loved ones, friends and families, as the poet mines the intricate and intimate dynamics of our interrelationships with one another, in a world born of flesh and dreams.’

So fantastic to know the collection is reaching people!

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