I’m posting a few very kind but also interesting comments made by Sean Kennedy, a professor at Saint Mary’s University, about my book. Comes pretty close to how I feel about the whole thing, particularly his observation that we carry devastation with us into tomorrow in order to not forget. What else can we do?
“Powell’s powerful debut collection is a searingly honest, yet stunningly dignified attempt to express something of the experience of her father, a WWII veteran, who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, before eventually taking his own life. In contrast to the orgiastic militarism of Harper’s quest for the Franklin wreck, or the often phatic processes of the lest we forget commemorations that we see on Remembrance Day, Powell’s book is less concerned with fateful forgetting and more with the difficult and delicate work of recovery – recovery of the memories and moments that help us to constellate loss. These are poems about objects, ‘frying pans, pots of soapy water’, and the appeals we make to them in our quest to understand. These are poems, too about people, the ones we recall as somehow central to the lives rent by tragedy, even as we cannot scrutinize their motives in retrospect. At the heart of the book, though, is a ‘lone man at the land’s drowned end’: a recovering veteran ‘his heart full of holes’ fated to drown each night among singing men’. Around him circles a daughter, a lost child, and her frantic epistemologies, littered attempts at comprehension, meet, time and again, the horrors of contingency and its aftermath: ‘if all is wrecked between us, it’s because/a pair of wing tips on the other side of the world/closed in prayer to make this small breath, like the breath of a child blowing a candle wish, that only gathered salt and squalls as it grew swift. They say it often begins like this.’ Few of us really understand what poetry is meant for. But if it is meant for anything, then surely it is for quests like this one: attempts at understanding things that will always elude us. Time and again, these poems offer up powerful questions: how do we make dignity of damaged lives? Why go on after devastation? And what of that devastation must we carry with us into tomorrow, lest we forget what it has made of us?”