Saturday, January 16, 2010

Review drop, anchor by Ben Barton

drop, anchor
Ben Barton

Published by erbacce-press

Reviewed by Eric Karl Anderson


Ben Barton’s poems construct a portrait of an individual starting from birth through the course of life encountering lovers and enduring the death of family members. There is an immediate sense of the fragility of life in the opening poem ‘The Re-Birth Remembered’ which describes how the narrator was born alongside a twin who was still born. That one should be taken home to be swaddled and loved while the other is shut in the dark and buried, their fates decided by trivial chance, seems an intolerable injustice that makes the narrator demand that they both be remembered.

These restrained poems don’t strive for deeper meaning because the profundity is there in the situation or encounter. Each is charged with an emotion refracted through a snapshot of a particular situation. From ecstatic bliss “ten thousand sparklers went off in my head” to the pulsing everydayness of desire “I like to watch the men’s crotches bobbing with the tarmac bumps,” the grave humour of hiding from landlords demanding money “too scared, even to piss in the centre of the bowl” and the bitterness of loss/missed opportunities “Another year has passed without you here.” These poems create feelings which resonate and an ambiguity about the choices one should make.

Ben Barton

Civil partnerships don’t necessarily make gay domestic harmony just because a contract has been signed. Although no one actually believes making a life-long commitment instantly resolves all those messy relationship problems (what David McConnell refers to as the “enchanted bed” of marriage), there is a buoyancy of feeling and vague expectation of unanimity between partners caused from legal reform which allows same sex couples to experience something akin to marriage. The happy gay home is called into question in the poem ‘Pink House.’ Small seemingly trivial arguments can erupt into bigger issues and it ends with the heavily ironic thought “Homo sweet homo.”

Like the final poem which describes a casual encounter: “It’s time to go home I guess,” the reader is left with a sense of longing for more. With a new book of poetry and a string of super 8 films in production the prolific poet/film-maker Ben Barton doesn’t seem to be slowing down. See http://roundeyebooks.blogspot.com/ for current events and projects.

Eric Karl Anderson is author of the novel Enough and has published work in various publications such as The Ontario Review, Velvet Mafia, Ganymede Stories One and the anthologies From Boys to Men, Between Men 2 and 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everyone Must Read.

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