Nicole Rollender’s Ghost Tongue, a ten-piece poetry chapbook published within Porkbelly Press’ 2016 micro-chapbook series, is concise, visually stunning and determined in its effort toward the unknown.
Trimmed down to just under 6 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches, the book is hand bound with heavy thread. The cover art, by Susan Yount (editor and publisher of Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal and founder of Misty Publications), is inkjet printed on premium matte paper. Yount’s art, with its bold focal points and detailed background, is a perfect match for the poems it frames and represents. Both poet and artist are precise in execution and atmospheric in their story-telling.
These bone, blood and belly poems read like echoes from eternity, presented by a poet who is confined within her allotted time. There is a constant sense of striving, which due to its temporary nature within the eternal, is never fully realised.
A reviewer ought to be careful when using words like, “concise.” Let’s be clear here; Rollender is not a four-word-poem type of poet. She is, however, a poet who trusts her reader enough to cut away the obvious, leaving plenty of room for interpretation and original thought. Her poems are alive with an ever-shifting imagery which beckons and persuades.
Ghost Tongue is a very human affair, not so much in its examination of the human condition, but more in its influence by and fascination with the unknown. Perhaps that is where the aforementioned striving comes from; a desire to penetrate the impenetrable. To know death in life. To see the other side. To be a part of all that has and will be. To visit that place where all things meet in a mess of birth, life and death.
Nicole Rollender’s poems contain a component rarely found in the written word, she writes with an artistic touch which is usually found in visual art. As Ghost Tongues’ imagery rolls on in a film-like fashion, the separate poems blend into a single cry toward the unknown, which calls out to both the living and the dead.
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