Holy Ghost

David Brazil. City Lights, $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-0-87286-714-7
In his third collection, Brazil (Antisocial Patience) meditates on the earthly and the divine, exploring what distinctions separate and unite these spheres. The eponymous spirit is not a deity or celestial being, but the holy presence he recognizes in himself and others. Which is not to say there isn’t a God present; there is, appealed to as “the vanished underlying/ father we are waiting for,” but he shares the stage with a bravely benevolent humankind attempting to throw off the yoke of oppression. In addition to such influences as Ginsberg and Whitman, Brazil invokes the troubadour spirit of Woody Guthrie in bursts of musical refrains, as in “One Dust Song,” with lines like “day is short/ and dust is long/ and right is right/ and wrong is wrong.” Part of Brazil’s worldview seems to be the perception that we are living in philosophically meager times, a new Dust Bowl of spiritual and moral poverty. He means to galvanize dissent, to encourage “righteous action rhetoric can’t break.” Through a clever patois, Brazil mixes elevated and colloquial language, benediction and idiom, to create captivating juxtapositions: “in the splendid garden of the lambent forms, I’m/ about to ask y’all a question.” Brazil’s experimentation with language and form doesn’t always work, but his free verse fulfils his stated aims. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/17/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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