Two Poems, and a Review of The Knowledge, in Poetry Salzburg Review

psr28My copies of Poetry Salzburg Review 28 arrived today, with its signature surrealist cover holding nearly 200 pages of enticing poetry and reviews.

Among them are two new poems from me — “The Computer Programmer’s Wife”, to which I expect many a beleaguered techno-spouse might relate, and the off-kilter Anglophonic lament “Getting On With It”. I am also looking forward to mining out new nuggets from familiar names like Piotr Florcyzik, Kim Moore, and Rob A. Mackenzie.

The review of The Knowledge is a ringing endorsement (I had to sit down) from Ian Watson which concludes, “The problem with The Knowledge is that there are just too many striking images, too many poems to cite. Just go out and buy it.”

Along the way, he points out poems that take up topics that teachers will often advise beginning writers to steer clear from, such as common birds or writers’ block — and notes how these poems succeed, almost defiantly, anyway. He points out my preoccupation with fleeting detail, and calls the work, “erudite, urbane and at times intriguingly evasive.”

If you’re at all intrigued by any of this, you can order your copy of Poetry Salzburg Review 28 directly from their website, or better yet subscribe.


Two Poems in December Magazine

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We reinserted ourselves into the perpetual cloud layer over Heathrow today, returning from a sun-drenched Thanksgiving in Southern California. In our absence, howling winds have stripped the trees bare. Here comes December.

A more welcoming variety of December greeted me on the doorstep today as well: contributor copies of the excellent US-based literary journal. Founded in 1958, the journal is making waves under new direction. I was pleased to discover a raft of Pacific University MFA students who make an appearance in this issue, including Mary Bond, Greg Jensen, Sam Roxas-Chua, and Andrew Wood.

I am looking forward to tucking in to the 200+ pages of fine poetry and prose. The fire in the stove is lit. The cat is near. Good writing is to hand.

Thus will we make our way through another English winter


The Knowledge Goes Pining for the Fjords

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“If you don’t read Robert Peake’s The Knowledge as a taking-up-again of existential conversation, you’re doing it wrong.” Thus begins Abby E. Murray’s confident and considered review of my new collection for Fjords Review. It is a gift to be read at all, and clear that Abby has spent quality time with the book and her own reflections on it.

I read the review aloud to my wife, Valerie, who said that it brought her new insight into certain poems. (This from someone who practically knows them all by heart.) Abby ends with some thoughts on the poetic confraternitas (as Miłosz put it) that transcends geographic distance.

I am about to get on a plane to visit family for Thanksgiving, and meet a new nephew. I couldn’t think of a better send-off.

You can read the full review on the Fjords website.


The Zombie-Slayer School of Poetry

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The internet wants to turn us into zombies.

I behold the transformation, as one by one my fellow commuters whip out their smartphones — the eyes go dead, the jaw goes slack, drool glistening at the corners of the mouth. They are reading, yes, but what are they reading? A mish-mash of “messaging” designed to provoke consumer behaviour.

Like a zombie, the internet wants to consume your brain. It’s how zombies spread. But poetry wants the opposite — it wants to give, not take. It wants to give you back your brains.

In a new review for Huffington Post, I take a close look at two poets who are taking on the zombie-like drone of mass media with their own fresh language. Equally adroit in high and low registers — as comfortable undoing the undead with a high-powered rifle as with a cricket bat — these two associate as freely as search engine results, tackling big questions with humour, pathos, and self-conscious aplomb.

This poetry will give you back your brains — and perhaps even a bit of your heart.


Poetry International Does The Knowledge

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“…the voice in these poems is deeply reflective, defiant, and with doses of insect imagery”
-Lorenia Salgado, Poetry International

Poetry International (SDSU) carries a micro-review of The Knowledge on their website today. Lorenia Salgado notes “the speaker’s intricate response to life’s perplexing moments” throughout the book’s three sections, and quotes passages from “Nocturne with Writer’s Block” to illustrate various forms of Kafkaesque metamorphosis.

Reflection. Defiance. Insects. What more could you want from poetry?

You can read the full review at Poetry International.


World Literature Today Does The Knowledge

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Los-Angeles-based Piotr Florczyk takes on The Knowledge in a new review for World Literature Today (University of Oklahoma, founded 1927).

He rightly points out that the book is “fuelled by the poet’s insatiable wish to understand himself and the world around him”. Yet he also notes a the tempering influence, calling the work “equally restrained and voracious in … kaleidoscopic recording of the here and now.”

Noting the book’s cinematic quality, Florczyk observes, “Like a perfectionist cameraman, Peake is after the ‘dust in a shaft of light,’ recognising both its negative and life-affirming qualities.”

You can read the full review in the November print edition, and online.