the process of losing cohesion or strength.
"the twin problems of economic failure and social disintegration"
the process of coming to pieces.
"the disintegration of infected cells"
when i’m reading a book of poetry i need it to kick my heart in the first few pages. much like when i watch a film, if it doesn't grab me immediately it’s facing an uphill struggle to hold my gaze. call it the 21st century rot but my attention span is waning. i’m surrounded by hummingbirds and my neck is sore.
luckily, the first three poems of paul mullen’s new chapbook disintegration are stunning and the fourth is even better;
the bullywhip of voices in the hall
light formations on diamond tiles
shadows under the door
this poet deals in imagery, and lots of it. each line is like a painting. its world building but on a macro level and it works really well. everyday situations warp and wind around surrealism and that wonderful quality of the true poet – overthinking.
the narrative voice is strong in nearly all the pieces. these are human stories shot through with emotional clarity.
after school is a beautiful encapsulation of childhood and mystery. of the naive moments we cling to when we are stupid enough to think they mean something. that they ever will.
chain is touching in other ways. a simple tale of daisy chains and, perhaps, a relationship slipping.
firecrests is a thing of wonder.
the slow melt of butterflies
into the nakedness of shadows
into dirty blood-axe greens
birds captive in sizzling sallow tulips calling
i have not read a better five lines all year.
these poems are obviously about someone. questions are asked throughout the book, directed to someone who lingers like a shadow on the pages. i feel like you need to be invested emotionally, to understand the coils of darkness that can wrap around a human being when another human being comes into their life. to understand the dimness that a brilliant sunrise can carry. some of the work borders on maudlin, but the quality of writing is undeniable. and really, when we read poetry should we not become invested in the poet? should we not embrace his failings as well as his victories?
disintegration is a fine title for the chapbook. as we read on, the news, the stories, the humanity becomes darker. we focus in on an event. i wont go into what it is but its there and it brings the final three pieces into an emotional and spiritual clarity that will stay with you long after you close the cover
oh and about that cover. as an artist myself, and someone who dabbles in book covers, i can honestly say its the perfect image for what we are reading. darkness. some dim lights. there is sadness in the world. we fall apart sometimes. and once we do, we never truly forget it. but i’m reminded of the leonard cohen quote;
“there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in”
i’d recommend this to fans of poets such as andrew mcmillan (for its searing honesty) and seamus heaney (for the muddy use of landscapes and memories). i enjoyed it a lot.