Ghost, like a Place

Iain Haley Pollock. Alice James, $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-95-4
In his sophomore effort, Pollock (Spit Back a Boy) gathers a wide range of direct, plainspoken lyrics that deal with childhood, family, rural life and beauty, human (and boyish) cruelty, and newfound fatherhood. These poems directly and indirectly tie these themes to larger issues of societal violence, race, and gender. Pollock tells of a group of boys, the speaker among them, throwing stones at a dying rat: “In that hour/ or the next, the thing/ must have died, killed/ not by us—mercy.” Elsewhere, he envisions a still-living Tamir Rice playing a game of basketball with his son—“Heavy going-down/ sun. Heavy, heavy (glinting) going-down sun”—and runs through elements of the life and death of Louis Armstrong, writing from the perspective of his subject: “I’m not telling this straight:/ depending on the folks in front of me.” Some of the most direct encounters with political themes feel shoehorned in; for example, a poem that begins with the speaker watching Tai Chi practitioners and fisherman along a river ends abruptly, “And the Black boys/ of Philadelphia, this summer,/ one gunned down each day.” Despite a feeling of incompleteness in the work, Pollock delivers moments of levity, lyric beauty, and a creeping melancholy that lend his work its distinct atmosphere. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-948579-51-3
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