John Brandi’s Facing Highwater (2008)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 11, which was published circa January 2009.


John Brandi's – Facing HighwaterFor over a year now, I have been exploring and noticing how true Philip Whalen’s definition of poetry is. Whalen says, “Poetry is a picture or graph of the mind moving.” In John Brandi’s newest collection, Facing High Water (White Pine Press), the poems are, at times, a graph of the mind moving, but, more often, these poems are a graph of a culture moving, or:

   The Song of Humans,
   unhurried, wandering in and out
   the gate, enough time
   between work
   to play.
                                      (“Nostalgia,” ll 15-19)

These poems also have the energies and tones of a Fugs song, but the poems are more grounded, with sharper language, and with an Eastern philosophical bent, like Buddhism or Taoism or Hinduism or a combination of all of them in this new humanistic Brandism, as expressed in “The Chai Wallah’s Story”:

   “A Person who accepts his fate
   just as nature puts it to him gets along fine
   in the world      – and in the next.”             	
                                                       ( ll 26-28)




Brandi, John. Facing High Water. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2008.//

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