Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bruce Boston's Dark Roads

Bruce Boston. Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems, 1971-2012.  Colusa, CA: Dark Renaissance Books. 2013.156 pp. ISBN 13: 978-1-937128-90-6. Illustrated by M. Wayne Miller.

Bruce Boston has been writing for many years but I only discovered him about fifteen years ago when I joined the Science Fiction Poetry Association. I was immediately struck by Boston’s ability to evoke images I’d never experience before, and by his immense vocabulary and a talent for wielding words with the delicacy of an épée. Since that time I’ve eagerly awaited every new poem he’s released. I’d have no idea of the count of individual poems that Boston has published, but there are more than forty collections of his work. He has certainly been productive.

Recently, Dark Renaissance Books released a selected collection of  many of Boston’s best “long” poems published between 1971 and 2012. I’m not sure exactly how they define long poems but all the ones here are at least two pages of material. Most are quite a bit more. Some are certainly epic in length as well as scope.

As a result of this being a “selected” collection, I’ve previously read many of these poems. I believe this actually increased my enjoyment of them. Boston’s poetry is so rich that I’ve often found myself rereading his work anyway. The first time through I’m swept up by the imagery, which is always perfect but seldom what you expect, and by the joy of the word play. The second time I read for meaning, and though I’m not always able to extract a coherent meaning, I’m always left with a sense of ‘resonance,’ a sense that truth lies within if I but had the breadth of experience to grasp it.

It’s hard to pick favorites from such a collection, where every page holds gems, but I have to call out two particular poems, the multiple award winning “Pavane for a Cyber-Princess,” and “She Was There for Him the Last Time.” Here’s a fragment from “Last Time.”

she was there for him the last time
in the bombed-out city
where the decimating trajectories
left their scars upon the earth
like sabers crossed and waiting

I highly recommend any and all of Boston’s work. You can pick Dark Roads up from the publisher:

You should certainly check out Boston’s website, where you can access some of his work online:  

I’ll end with a quote from another poem in Dark Roads, “In the Short Seasons of a Long Year without You.”

This sheet of broken lines

I leave for you to find.


Cloudia said...

That cover draws one in, Charles. Thanks for the rec


Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, anything by Boston is excellent.

Riot Kitty said...

That is prolific as hell....haven't heard of him before.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, thanks for writing about Bruce Boston and his poetry, which I read occasionally. I wouldn't know where to start with contemporary poets and their work.

BernardL said...

I was sampling some of his other books on Amazon Kindle in the previews. His imagery is incredibly good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot Kitty, he's known mostly in spec poetry circles but has started getting some wider and well deserved recognition.

Prashant, I've got about a dozen of his books, I think. Perhaps a few more. Always enjoy his work.

Bernard, I love great language that evokes strong images. Boston certainly does it well.

sage said...

I think I like horror in a poem or short story more than in a book. Thanks for the introduction.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, most of his stuff is more SF than horror, although there are elements of horror. it's really a very mixed type of poem.

David Cranmer said...

I'm certainly in the poem frame of mind. Duly noted.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nice to see a poet get some attention.

Lisa said...

I admire poets and envy them.

Charles Gramlich said...

David, yeah, you should be able to find some of his poetry around and on his website.

Patti, true. It doesn't happen often.

Lisa, I can understand that.

Oscar Case said...

Maybe, one of these days I'll get a real interest in poetry. Thanks for the post and links.

Ron Scheer said...

For me, reading poetry seems to require exercising a whole different part of the brain. I'm a little out of practice, too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, I've been a fan since college and the discovery of Dylan Thomas

Ron, I think my own writing activates my imagery generating brain so reading poetry doesn't cause too much of an upheaval.

laughingwolf said...

for my tbr list...

Diane Severson said...

Excellent review, Charles! Thanks for that. The cover gets me too!