Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jamie Ross' VINLAND in Warwick Review

Michael Hulse / Warwick Review

The title poem of this exhilaratingly-pitched collection—extraordinarily the first by a writer in his sixties—announces a voice that is not quite like anything we've read anywhere before:

I say it is rain for the rooster. And the fog,
and the dispersion of the small. And I say
it is rain for the sound of despair. For
the clutched breath in a child's dream
when the mare goes blind and licks
a wound. For the light I cannot reach. For
my father is building his boat.

That attunement to the primal and the mythic, coupled with the ability to make wholly familiar words perform unfamiliar tasks or appear in unfamiliar guises, is Jamie Ross's hallmark. There's nothing capricious about his writing, nothing wilful or obscurantist: the making for him is a palpable act of passion, an urge to pressure words into revelation. When the pressure runs white hot, the result is the ecstatic pile-up in the twenty-two line sentence that stunningly takes up most of "Peterbilt." Small wonder Brigit Pegeen Kelly chose this collection as the winner of a US
competition—Ross shares here ambition to re-create the given. Poem for poem, Vinland is as sharp, bright and breath-taking collection as any I've seen in this first decade of the century, brimful of excitement and tranquility alike.