Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: The Grammar of Distance, by Ian Burgham

I had the great privilege of reading with Ian Burgham back in April at the Draft Reading Series, and was so impressed with his performance that I picked up his new poetry collection, The Grammar of Distance. Ian did a tremendous job reading from his text, providing just enough explanation between each poem and really imbuing his lines with energy and professionalism. He and I had a great chat afterwards and he seemed thoroughly impressed with the excerpt of my new novel that I had read. (Yes, I read from the new novel. If you missed it, you suck!)

And while I do admit that The Grammar of Distance worked better for me read aloud in miniature than it did as a whole volume, I think most readers should be able to find something to like in this collection of highly personal, sentimental, self-ensconced poems. Ian’s words traverse both an emotional and a physical landscape and speak to many of the concerns and preoccupations of his generation. Several of these poems jarred and challenged me in unexpected ways and made me reexamine the approaches I take to my own poetry.

I should as well send out a big kudos to Ian’s publisher, Tightrope Books, for putting his verse together into such a beautiful physical object. The cover has a gorgeous design and the selected typeface is simple and elegant, a perfect complement to Ian’s thoughtful words. It certainly makes reading a collection of poems a much better experience when such care gets put into the creation of the book itself.

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