Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review by FC Lee of Resonance Dark and Light by Bruce Boston

Resonance Dark and Light by Bruce Boston is an Elgin-nominated book of poetry by Bruce Boston, who is one of only six poets to have received the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Grand Master Award. The poems range from the heartland of science fiction (time travel, space travel, climate change) to the heartland of horror (werewolves, vampires, the devil) and all the territory between, not to mention several poems of a mainstream or realistic persuasion. Likewise the tone ranges from dark to surreal to humorous.

There are themes and groupings within the larger set of poems, most notably the dozen Music poems spaced throughout the book. Of this particular subset, my favorite is "The Music of the Stars," which sings to the heart of this science fiction reader. Of the realistic poems, I am partial to "Living in a World of Giants" and the poignant "Halloween Hunchback."

Of the more surreal entries, "Surreal Shopping List" takes a clever conceit and executes it brilliantly, as exemplified by the opening entry in the shopping list:

     the autobiography of a trellis

"Noir People" is moody and atmospheric, its last stanza especially powerful.

Of the horror poems, I loved how strangeness combined with humor in "The Envy of Every Demon." Though manifestly fantastical, "The Curse of the Procrustean's Wife" speaks to real-world horrors. It lingered with me after I'd read it with lines such as:

     as he delimits her needs
     and defines her desires,
     the smaller she becomes.

These lines also illustrate how Bruce Boston attends to sound, even though he rarely uses straight rhyme.

In the borderland where horror and science fiction overlap lies "In the Quiet Hour," which opens with a subtly sinister atmosphere and progresses to a terrifying conclusion. In the lighter shades of science fiction are "Marie Antoinette, 2125" and "Chrononaut Inductees." The former being an inspired work of brevity, the latter a work of greater length and moments of genius, such as this option for what to do when you spot a butterfly back in the far distant past:

    a. step on it and kill it. How much difference can one dead

    butterfly in the Eocene make?

--Mary Soon Lee

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