A Review: Remote Life by Edward Anki

robot familyRemote Life is Edward Anki’s first collection of poetry and it is further evidence that Bareback Press are succeeding in their commitment to publishing “Bareback writing”, that is, in their own words, “writers who aren’t afraid to take off their gloves and bare themselves, giving the world honesty. Truth we may not like, but are forced to accept.”

The first poem within the collection establishes the theme for the book as Anki recalls watching the wrestling on TV at age eight. He describes the pantomime of it all and compares it to the silliness and treachery we encounter and participate in throughout our lives.

 

After the match

the good guy

(formerly a bad guy)

sucker-punched his teammate

and the two bad guys

they had beaten

returned to the wrestling ring

and helped the good guy

(now once again a bad guy)

stomp and kick the good guy

and that was very sad.

(from Age Eight P9)

 

This collection doesn’t concern itself with conclusion, consequentially there is plenty of room for the reader to consider the various possible outcomes. Throughout the book the author uses the contrast between innocence and decadence to paint an honest picture of failed potential. This is particularly evident in some of the shorter poems. In less than forty words Anki creates two contrasting, yet unquestionably linked images in the poem Christmas Eve. He uses two simple scenes to propose several complex scenarios.

 

The children of everywhere

lay out their cookies

and dream up colorful gods and gifts

and now Anastasia takes the stage

wrapping the pole

with her body

for six separately seated men

aged thirty-seven to

sixty-three

(from Christmas Eve P14)

 

How many of the first half of the poem’s children will entertain six separately seated men in the years to come? How many of those separately seated men have daughters of their own who are at home laying out seasonal cookies? Has any of those children’s  festive cheer  been bought and paid for by  dollar bills shoved inside a Christmas thong?  Rather than filling three or four pages with obscure metaphor or detailed description, he trusts the white space on the page and allows the reader to ask his/her own questions.

 

Later –

while I seasoned the meat –

she paused

over a cucumber.

 

“Do you really love me?”

 

“Of course,”

I guessed,

assuredly.

(from Reunion P34)

 

Disconnection and a striving desire for completion are heavy features throughout the forty-two pages of this book. All of these poems have a cynical edge to them and rightly so. After all, the subject matter is one of missed opportunity, boredom and selfishness. The poet recognises the need for change but lacks the deep running conviction change requires. The problem Anki poses is not knowing how or what to connect to in order to obtain some sense of wholeness.

 

Decades before

these were children

STAMPING

their feet into puddles

with joyous abandon

 

Now

one of them reaches out,

changes the channel.

 

The coffins yawn

in anticipation.

(from Remote Life P11)

 

These narrative poems are a deeply confessional account of a man’s frustration with the banalities of life. Remote Life brings the empty gesture of meaningless conversation, self-entitled gratification and the search for completion through sex, alcohol and gambling under extreme scrutiny. It interrogates those conversations filled by small-talk and no conviction. It indicts insignificance and charges time as a thief.

These concise poems stir up that which is so easy to lose sight of as we get sucked into chore and routine. Anki uses his own mistakes and apathetic attempts at finding fulfilment as a cautionary admonition. By taking an unflinching look at the ageing process, sickness and various aspects of the ridiculously mundane, yet destructive, patterns we often fall into, Anki reminds us that life is a journey.  More importantly, it is a journey toward death. The end is not in question here, the only questions are when, how and was it worthwhile.

 

*****

Title: Remote Life

Author: Edward Anki

Publisher: Bareback Press

Page Count: 42

Publication Date: 2014

Price: $8.50 (paperback)

 

Buy your copy of Remote Life directly from Bareback Press here.

 

 

Matthew J. Hall
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Matthew J. Hall

An avid reader, writer and reviewer of poetry and short fiction. Author of Blood Pudding Press 2015 chapbook contest winner, Pigeons and Peace Doves and The Human Condition is a Terminal Illness will soon be available through Bareback Press (2017).
Matthew J. Hall
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