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‘Progress and the Eternally Trapped Mind’
FOR MY PEOPLE and other poems by Nathaniel Lucas, 75 pages
Nathaniel Lucas, who has inspired my recent examination of Melville’s Moby Dick, has published a book of postmodern poetry which is not, but rather post-medieval. Although For My People and other Poems has references to current conditions, it reads like some saddened soul trying to hold back Hobbes and Rousseau from diving headlong each into their own annihilating conclusions.
These 56 poems span 75 pages and each make for a good meditation on those days when I wish to feed my brain but lack the time to read chapters of prose. More importantly, the poems are accessibly deep, not cryptic, each like a stair cut into the rabbit holes of our inner life, which Nathan has obviously shared with us.
My favorite poem is A Prayer for Reality on page 35…
The title poem, For My People is very nice and seems to have been written as a thematic introduction rather than written on its own and selected as the headline poem, as it so perfectly forewarns the reader of the content.
My favorite musing piece is Art as Religion on page 39, which I have reread the most and is nicely offset by Echo and Narcissus, which follows, like the rest, seemingly placed in taught concern as to its position in the collection, and reminds me of the tenor of Robinson Jeffers’ approach to ancient Hellenic poetics.
Nathaniel Lucas is the most painful read, spiced with humor, both ill and well.
Below is the opening of one selection I quite like:
Arise in Conquest
“The cops and cars trickle Down Vasconcelos street
The triumph now is to
Find something clean to eat.
My Spanish is now enough
For cracks to form, or do they open?
Everyone awaits the earthquake
Only the churches are unreformed
Above the lying lakebed.
Here, Cortes met Motecuzoma…”
I would say my second favorite poem is Atavised with a brief extract below:
“Deeds believe this.
With godly wrath
the symbols clash
nearby somewhere…”
A return to For My People and other poems will be a regular portion of my weekly reading life. I could have read it all in 90 minutes but have stopped at Awkward Television on page 48, wanting something for tomorrow and something after that.
Thanks, Nathaniel.
Below is a snatch from our correspondence, which has been quite good for me as a writer, which includes a link for his poetry book:
“It may amuse you to know that the poem about Bishop Zumarraga I sent you will be published, after 39 rejections, by a hipster online outfit dedicated to Hispanic culture in North America so I'm hopeful that one day my paleface ass will be made an honourary member of La Raza. I will send you the link when it is out.
“I have been promoting your Myth20c appearances among my friends and according to one working class listener currently climbing the greasy pole in our state government, in Australian parlance, you are a "mad crunt", but right about masculinity
“I published my book of poetry yesterday. I have attached the manuscript and cover below if you are still able to review it. It is available at Amazon here:
“Many thanks and I hope you are well.”
Nathan's way here, his mode of protest, rather than marching like some clown in a parade of angst, is the way that the sharpest minds of the ancient world protested their conditions, the way that lasts.
Nathaniel Lucas
For My People and other poems
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