It's short. (Two short stories, each proceeded by a scattering of gem-poems, each followed by a wonderful explanation by the author. I had sworn off author explanations, but these have changed my mind.) Every word is so transfixing, time just about stopped when I read it: there is more writing and content in here than most books five times longer.
Why does every book has to be 500 pages long, now? I miss short novels. I do. I also think I have another author to add to my impending "Poetry Reading List."
This is the Matter of the South: King Arthur with his gun in a pawn shop, The Fisher King haunted by black howling cusiths, even The Questing Beast. It is murkily ethereal, both in writing and story. The opening poem sets the tone:
The fence had died.
Perishing by solemn degrees,
Choked to silence by bullis vines
Lurking on the ground
And slithering like fertility symbols
Through trees that suffered
Their subtle visitations.
For writers, hope and despair. Words DO matter. The perfectly perched word opens up worlds in your heart. But DAMN -- how do you get there? It reminds me of the wistful advice given to us by Chip Delaney at Clarion, in 2006: "You cannot master your craft; you must submit to your craft." And perhaps more gently and much more recently, from Naomi Shahib Nye: "Believe in the work that comes through you."
Even better, Berrien doesn't refer to himself as a writer
in his blog. He refers to himself as "writerly."
I can't help but feel connected. I've wanted to be more writerly
all this year!