Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen by David Canmer

I'm delighted to review a debut poetry collection released in April by David Cranmer, who was an early member of our Book Review Club. David is perhaps better known as the editor/publisher of Beat to a Pulp webzine, but he is also an accomplished poet with a most original voice. 

Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen is both eclectic and true to the complex backstory of the poet. David is an Army veteran and a risk management advisor who has worked in Haiti. His opening poem "The Inconsiderate" is a disturbing account of murder in Port-au-Prince. The focus shifts from the corpse to his mother to show the added cruelty of lost compassion:

"The weeping woman is mother of the deceased

But they do not flinch - it is lost on them

How they are treating her son's remains

Like the trophy hunters of some big game."

The subsequent poems are by contrast far more quotidien but no less skilled in their execution. My favorite was the amusing "No Line for a Common Thread" about a typical commute by train, which strikes a universal cord, all the more resonant for the contrast of wartime life before it:

"Temporary exchanges

Signifying little to nill

Just daily superfluous asides

Make up a shared human experience"

Darker are the poems of drinking to escape. One notes how alcohol can be like a vine strangling a tree. There are memorials to murder victims and a sad ode to losing one's mother to Alzheimer's Disease. Lighter are the poems celebrating the poet's love for his wife and their young daughter. 

Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen reveals the troubled soul of a veteran, trying to integrate back into civilian life. Despite the horrors of the past, he tries his best to be a good husband, father, and son. The book is dedicated to his daughter, but in this short collection is a poem for everyone. Nice cover too! It's available on Amazon in print or ebook/Kindle Unlimited.

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@Barrie Summy


Barrie said...

Thank you for this very thoughtful review. I just ordered the book. I don't read a lot of poetry. I should read more. And no better place to start than with David Cranmer's collection. Thank you, Sarah!

Jenn Jilks said...

What a great review!
Thanks for sharing him!

troutbirder said...

I always said when my high school English teachers force poetry on me that I didn; have enough experience in life suach grown up love, death passion and the bueaty daffodils lateinin life after the lose my son due to bipolar and my wif due to Azlheimer...... I persuaded myfriends in our Spring valley ladies bookc clubu to have a poetry session we all had a pasionate arguement abouth the subject :)

Powell River Books said...

I enjoy poetry but don't usually read books with collections. - Margy