Monday 8 June 2020

Review by Peter Flack of "Postmodern" by Richard C. Bower

Richard Bower's poetry began as a meditation on the death of his mother, a change to his life that left him, at least temporarily, bereaved and bereft. He contemplates the floods that have consumed the world around him and his words are suffused with a sense of wanting to let go and drown in the elements. Mourning is the predominant tone and feeling at the start and indeed it is the title of one of the later poems, 

Yet this is much more than a collection of words in memoriam. Little by little the boundaries that mark the borders of his reflections move outwards, becoming universal. If night and darkness are often used as background and context, little by little they give way to light and brightness. To the act of re-awakening. Memory serves as an incubator for joy. 

Poems like 'Something inside is alive' and  'We are made of stardust' reveal an accelerating sense of remaking and positivity. This reaches a fullness in 'Nature' and 'An Awakening' where the beauty and shimmering vitality of the natural world lure him back to a oneness with the all that is around him that  he had felt no longer a part of.

Increasingly the ebb and flow of tides and the rotation of seasons become the motifs that underpin his thoughts. 'Tonight' and 'Beneath the Eyes' speak of transcendence, love and freedom. This is a long way from the sadness of the earliest poems.

The final verses move to universal issues - to how the world should be, were it a proper place for people to live and prosper. 'Dystopia' and 'Riding the Waves of Emotional Turmoil' warn of the danger of not paying attention to what is happening around us. Not submitting to algorithms and surveillance and of recognising the essential importance of reciprocity and common moral values.

Post Modern is a journey in poetry.

About the reviewer
Peter Flack is a former teacher. He was co-founder of the Whatever it Takes literacy programme for Leicester schools. He also chairs the Everybody's Reading Festival.

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