Aad de Gids reviews “Body Voices” by Kevin Reid, Published by Crisis Chronicles Press. Full Of Crow Press.
Kevin Reid has written an intriguing collection of poetry themed around the vestiges of the human body called: Body Voices. In his book the body does acquire an actual voice. More accurately, several voices, as there are various parts of the body which all appear to be eager to speak. Never denoted without wit and sometimes a frail sadness or deadpan acuity, each poem is at once written for that particular body part’s seemingly idiosyncratic voice, while simultaneously bearing references to either more personal, societal or philosophical and poetical insights. As such, the book also resembles the great atlases of ancient renaissance, Vesalius de humani corporis fabrica (1543) comes to mind. However, now in Reid’s hands, and in a decisively modern and postmodern idiom, the various Body Voices show a language best summarized as strong in vulnerability.
Reid is a spacious writer using all the paper in a roomy way leaving the reader air to breathe, and with enjambment and typography to enjoy.
In the poem Eyes, I found these lines striking in particular:
My eyes I realise
are much older than me.
I remain ignorant to their wisdom.
This is a brilliant poetic brush to the eyes, it is personal yet beholds
a kind of universality.
Meanwhile Ears; these naked exhibitionists in a lifetime seem condemned to the cloistering yet herein precisely liberating white noise of tinnitus.
Reid’s flexible and versatile use of poetic language in the poem Mouth is not without
personal reminisce for me:
Dancing on Gum,
Grinding on Speed,
A Visit to the Dentist. (only when in need)
In Brain, or cloudily surrounding it, we can expect to at least find a look in the kitchen of the poet. Not disappointed, it is in such sidetracks Reid reveals his true depth and vision:
Void of font my volumes in cerebrum read a
testament of human speech and language.
From the onset of Heart, Reid the contrarian, mentions nothing of the backdrop to which many poets are indebted. Being a nurse myself I have to admit I did became a bit dishevelled in reading about real heart. I personally consider not the brain, but the heart to contain the essence of human soul and it is this poem which shredded me to pieces:
Three further arrests then flown to hospital,
never known the need for twelve shocks.
Up close and personal. Pulse & poetry. Nipples offers some solace:
Pocket studs on this male garment;
barely high fashion.
The poem Stomach urges Reid to look to the places where hunger informs an aesthetic, if any was necessary,
Life is hard in Zimbabwe,
I do most of the running..
I tried to thieve some biscuits
today. I’m not sorry I’m hungry.
The Penis of course could be the source of many a poetic revelation:
My penis: a wanker,
a sex junkie who often talks piss.
On our Thighs we rely so much so that:
I meet a child fast pedalling a bicycle,
his right thigh bitten by a dog named Boot
with a weak master and no collar or chain.
Our Buttocks are as hilarious as fundamental:
The excitement of my first grope
behind the bush by the burn
her bare butt and her birthmark.
In the lesions on our Knees we seem to give ourselves away:
his sinister stance
broken by belief/
kneecapped by christ’s criminals
In his poem Feet Reid gives an almost mystique lemma:
In our biggest organ Skin, we are most mouldable:
“Read my re-plumped lips”
says Auntie Wrinkle with cosmetic confidence.
In our Bones we are strong also, in vulnerability:
a series of joints and valve innovations.
With a beautiful Tiepolo-like sketch our Veins hold a special place:
We will be the marble in mortals,
the black lace of the decaying corpse.
With his exquisite collection of body poetry, layered subtly with imaginative images and extrapolations, Reid has replicated those fabulously illustrated old anatomic atlases, and it is with immense pleasure I have navigated his atlas anatomica and end with a heartfelt appreciation of Body Voices.