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Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates – Poems by Rich Ferguson – Review

Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates
Poems by Rich Ferguson
Moon Tide Press

In his newest book of poetry Rich Ferguson promises a puzzle. Or according to the poet, collaborations “with clouds creating poems continuously changing shape & meaning, depending how you look at them”. Rich doesn’t disappoint. Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates, published by Moon Tide Press and released in January 2021, delivers this and more.

Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates Rich Ferguson
Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates, poems by Rich Ferguson

In the eight section book, Rich Ferguson begins his lunar journey with relationships that end. When Rich addresses the tear from his mother who handed me over to the brass-knuckled moon in “A Worry Bead, a Blessing” and the amnesiac moon, a lunatic laundromat robbing me of my quarters in “When Her Blood-Red Kiss Stains My Breath”, he isn’t mixing his metaphors. The theme of moon repeats throughout this book, carefully arranged to make use of moon phases, gathering poems by themes. It begins with a full moon that naturally must wane.

As the light dims, Ferguson unflinchingly addresses America’s guns, racism, bomb shelters, gun powder, lynchings, gallows, tortures, bullet speech and exit doors. From “The Autopsy of Democracy”:

Upon reviewing the autopsy of democracy,
ask yourself if the corpse
resembles a black body
swinging from a tree

Ask yourself if the noose marks
around its neck
will preclude it
from an open casket ceremony.

As the poems wax in the following phases, Ferguson shines a light with humour. In the fourth section “The Gym Beyond Good and Evil Tendencies” and under the same poem title, Rich writes:

Nietzsche is my spotter.

He tells me to bench-press
the weight of the world.

But the poet is not glib as he offers brevity during the very real days of despair and down and out. He writes about childhood, misunderstandings, approaching your inner child when it’s wearing headphones, a noisy downstairs neighbour, and the things we’ve said under our breath, with gentle compassion and wit.

As the sections, or phases, of his book move towards a full moon, the poet waxes towards optimism extraordinaire. There is romance and imagination in a “Blueprint for a Better World”:

In utopia’s dance hall,
we’ll be non-stop
bump and grind music;
an exhilarating hectic electric
flowing through our veins.
When we touch radios,
light bulbs, and guitar amps,
they’ll come alive.

The poems in this book read as meditations, sermons to lost addicts, dialogues, monologues, love songs, advice, a stand up self help comedy act, visions of a better future, an elegy, writing instructions, smut talk to flowers, an open journal page transformed by blackout poetry, a carnival of confessions, a tender love letter to the self’s past and a bouquet of word play with just enough references to popular culture to ensure most everyone feels embraced. Ferguson understands America as a gunpowder road trip, caught up in last call, surrounded by soundtracks, death songs, symphonies, band names, playlists, birdsong and instruments. He is a romantic looking for love letters still written by hand.

As this book of poetry circles and cycles back to the full moon there is a promise of alignment. A renewed feminine and new life. Much of Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates touches the feminine in the poet’s life, as he plays the role, even dressing up to know the moon more completely. There may be something missing though. A character whose strengths, humour and depth are balanced by her flaws. This radiant book of poetry has Rich Ferguson carrying the moon at his throat and offering up light. Maybe his next book will discover the woman who carries the sun.

–review by Kathleen Reichelt

Poetry Reviews

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