Book Review: Dust

DustIt’s been a long time that a book of poetry moved me as much as Brady Peterson’s Dust did. A lot had to do with the topics, which reminds me of many of the things I like to write about, and the reasons why I write. Reading Dust reminded me of the important role we writers have to document and comment about life around us in an attempt to better understand the world we inhabit. Every single moment we capture through the looking glass tells us something about ourselves and invariably, the world around us.

And what makes Dust unique is that the author is simply commenting about life in its lowest common denominator. In language that is accessible and visceral, Peterson reveals much about the world around us.

Take for example, “We Once Played” which will resonate strongly for anyone who grew up in the sixties:

“We once played baseball unsupervised/climbed trees, squatted in culverts between rains—played war/using sticks as guns, jumped out of swings.”

But then, the poem does a 360 and might remind one of the Jim Carroll song, “People Who Died:”

“A college friend of my oldest daughter fell from a cliff one afternoon—free climbing/A college friend of mine was killed in Nam when his jeep rolled over on a bomb/Another slammed head-on into a truck while driving home to see if his high school friend was pregnant.”

It is so gut-wrenching when you get to the part. It’s both a reminder of innocence lost and life’s tragic moments that we all must experience.

And as much as I love Ginsberg and “Howl”, I had to chuckle when I read, “Moloch”:

“Vonnegut, who despised City Lights and the beat writers, claimed everyone knew the best minds majored in engineering, not English.”

Ouch.

I also liked his “everyman” approach and commentary. That’s what makes this collection so approachable for readers who might not read a lot of poetry.

On the other hand, for the literary connoisseurs among us, I really enjoyed his references to many of my favorite literary works, especially T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” (one of my favorite 20th Century poems hands down; in fact, the book’s title echoes another one of Eliot’s works, “The Burial of the Dead”) as well as William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” John Fowles’s The Collector, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five.

This is a fine collection of poetry and another gem from Big Table Publishing.

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