Sunday, December 28, 2014

Things I'm Glad I Read in 2014 #2

Like Rosemary Tonks, discussed in the first of these end-of-year posts, Bobby Parker seems propelled by the energy of pure honesty. In his collection Blue Movie, he addresses mental illness, addiction, his relationship to his parents, being a father himself, and the breakdown of relationships. Like Tonks' poetic subject, the self here is fragile but defiant. Parker's poems express a fear of the persona's own perceived inadequacy and the hostility of the outside world, yet joy pulses through these poems; joy in reality and joy in language. It is as if the poems themselves were an attempt to stave off the darkness which ends in addiction and reaffirm Parker's commitment to genuine happiness. At the end of 'Ducks Staring Into You', for example, the struggle between these two existential possibilities is expressed with shocking immediacy:

                                                   Forget about
your wife’s innocent leg hanging out the bed.
Your daughter, crawling faster with light to hug you
every morning. Every fucking morning. Smell her hair
and tell yourself, ‘This is what makes me happy!’
You liar. You bastard father. You darkness.

Despite the difficult terrain which the collection negotiates, Parker's gentle sense of humour and wide-eyed enthralment to all that is good make this an ultimately uplifting read; not in the sense of those gentle epiphanies of so much modern verse, but rather in the sense of what Larkin once called 'an enormous yes'.

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