B.W. Powe, Where Seas and Fables Meet • Reviewed by J.S. Porter 1
Hamilton Arts & Letters
BOOK REVIEW by J.S. Porter
B.W. Powe Where Seas and Fables Meet: Parables, Aphorisms, Fragments, Thought [ Toronto: Guernica, 2015 ]
Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk from Kentucky, had the ambition of writing A Book of Everything: “I have always wanted to write about everything…a book in which everything can go. A book with a little of everything that creates itself out of everything. That has its own life.” He wrote these words twelve years before his death in Bangkok by accidental electrocution in 1968. With The Asian Journal (posthumous), Merton was finally able to realize his ambition – a book of everything – his last photographs, speeches, prayers, travel notes, reading notes and poems.
Still early in his career, B.W. Powe in Where Seas and Fables Meet has written a book of everything. A book of stories, analysis and theory, Wilde Things, Marginalia and Delphic Ironies. Along the way, he writes an essay on the film director Stanley Kubrick and positions Kafka as the one indispensable seer of our time.
The Wilde Things are a kind of homage to Oscar Wilde – jokes, puns, paradoxes and witticisms. Powe at play. (He thinks Wilde should be called Whitman and Whitman Wilde.) The Delphic Ironies tend to be Powe in thought. And the stories, Powe imagining. He blends paradox, technology-probes, story and dream into an exuberant affirmation of human possibility. While you’re reading, keep in mind the closest parallel I can think of – the Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano’s The Book of Embraces which also joins poetry and politics, journalism and storytelling. “A neo-romantic hyper-modernist,” a bricoleur with his bricolage, Powe embraces the world, both the physical and the electric. He’s a magpie picking up life-sustaining seeds wherever he can find them.