Islands of Voices: Selected Poems of Douglas Oliver edited Ian Brinton (Shearsman Books)

Tears in the Fence

The eight titles of Douglas Oliver’s works included by Ian Brinton are supported with a preface by Joe Luna and introduction by the editor along with eight pages of notes at the end of this 180 page book. The inclusions by Joe Luna and Ian Brinton make clear Douglas Oliver’s stance towards poetry as indeed does reading his poems.

The poet’s inward conversations held within poems being the very thing with which he wants to confront possible readers: the immediacy of language acting in the moment of experience and in the reported experience, each being reliant on the other. Clear indication of this evident in:

‘Oh you are born already!’ cries the English mother

in pained surprise to her hanging baby,

as though the finished phrase

has slipped, unfinished, out of anguish

still continuing, into its adventures.

‘Beyond active and passive’

and strongly so, in:

… The moment we will…

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