Sabotaged! (A Review)

SabotageMartha Sprackland, editor of Cake, took a critical eye to my collection Human Shade in the latest review for Sabotage. She made deeply insightful observations, the likes of which could only have come from reading closely and thinking carefully about the work. For this, I am honoured. And because this collection is so achingly personal, it feels a bit as though she peered into my core.

Here analysis of the imagery, for example, articulates unconscious forces at play during the writing and assembling of the manuscript:

Throughout, Peake manages the subject of his son’s death both dextrously and eloquently. The line ‘I lash my faith to the mast of a boat’ (‘Elegy for the News’) is entirely appropriate for a collection in which the tidelines of grief are oceanic, dynamic, ever-changing, lapping up against the edges of the poems yet crucially avoiding the spill into sentimentality. Indicative of the poet’s skill is the way Peake is able to address his grief; in a poem about his son he is controlled, silent, ‘I disown the alphabet / unsaying each letter’ (‘To Friends Not Knowing What To Say’), whilst a poem about a road sign at the Mexican border is allowed to contain the line about the child ‘who rises as though winged in a blaze of light’ (‘Road Sign on Interstate 5’). The poems are shared, spliced, images from certain pieces belonging to others, yet all coalescing on the child, and all the better for their displacement.

Gratifying, too, is that my struggles against tidy conclusions and the shorthand vocabulary of psychoanalysis seem to have paid off, at least for this reader, who writes, “The collection ends on the promise of hope without the trite self-help conclusion too often found in collections assembled around a death.”

Naturally, there are parts she liked less in the work as a whole, and which I will consider as a writer. Overall, though, it is deeply encouraging to know that someone considering the work this carefully found their attention repaid, and it is a pleasure to read their many discoveries so beautifully phrased.

Read the full review here.

Books Are Here! (Human Shade)

About fifty pounds of books traveled over 2,500 miles to arrive on my doorstep today. I am deeply grateful to Marvin Bell, series editor, for selecting my collection Human Shade as part of the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series, to Valentine Freeman and Jensea Storie for writing the other two fine short books in this collection, and to Christine Holbert of Lost Horse Press for producing such a beautiful book, and being so gracious throughout the process. A labor of love on many fronts is bound up within these pages.

I am off to the office supply store now to get prepared to sign and ship out books this weekend. As a special thanks to everyone who ordered directly from me, I am also including an audio CD of me reading all of the poems in my collection. I only have a handful of copies left from this first shipment, but will be ordering another box from the publisher shortly, and taking additional orders as soon as I can. Meanwhile, it is a thrill to hold in my hands such a beautifully-produced book of poems, and know that many others will do so shortly. [UPDATE: I am taking orders again. Details here.]

Votes of Confidence

After I finalized the manuscript for Human Shade, my debut short collection appearing in the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series, I gave friends, family, and co-workers the opportunity to pre-order the book. The response has been unexpectedly wonderful.

Each order that has come in so far has felt like a small vote of confidence in my work. Collectively, they represent a substantial community of encouragement and support. By taking and fulfilling these orders myself, I feel personally connected to readers. I can also see where the books are going, as shown on the following map:

(Drag to move; double-click to zoom.)

The first two boxes of books are scheduled to land on my doorstep on Thursday, and nearly all of them already have homes. Almost as soon as they land, I will need to request more books from the publisher in time for my readings in March.

This, to me, is the best the Internet can offer — a sense of personal and meaningful connection to a global community of support. Prior to this experience, if you had asked me to name fifty to a hundred people who would be willing to pay good money to make extra sure they got a signed copy of my book, I’d be hard pressed to name them. Now I know who you are.

I look forward to shipping out books this weekend.