A Review, Virtual Tides by Paul Casey.

This is painful for me. The initial draft of this was for assessment and it wasn’t well received. I have however worked with Beth to correct it a quite a bit and present it here now for you all. What happened to the original? You will find it in the ‘F**k it bucket.’ This version may even find it’s way onto DURA. I am not holding my breath though.

Virtual Tides

Paul Casey

(Salmon Poetry)

Pbk: €12.00.

This collection is prefaced by a Wallace Stevens quotation “unreal things have a reality of their own” and in Paul Casey’s poetry, to paraphrase the completion of that quote, as elsewhere, we have realities taking shape out of what can be perceived as the very unreal.

We allow those deep realities to form from concepts that seem intangible to the reader at first pass.Then, within the pause that seems to inevitably follow the reading of most of the pieces contained therein, coalesce.

Subsequently, with the mustering of all the benefit of hindsight, read back and you see the purpose and the meaning that Casey was trying to convey. Also as likely, or partially at the very least, is the meaning you wish to give with the poet as your guide because what is poetry without the imagination of the audience, of you.

Virtual Tides is the latest collection from Paul Casey and his third overall. He has been published in journals and anthologies worldwide in countries as diverse as his native Ireland and South Africa. The collection brings together poetry dating from 2013 to 2016 published originally in journals as diverse in subject matter as is the aforementioned geography of publication.

Whilst mostly staying with traditional stanza based verse Casey does foray into prose poetry and also, more occasionally, to the completely free verse where he indulges his more whimsical side. This last grated initially but once revisited and studied the echoes were quite different. I began to hear what was being represented and was simultaneously delighted to find that he had entrapped me in that whimsy. This was especially evident with the alluring Water Signs which needs to be seen as it cannot really be quoted abstractly here.

Whatever form the poet adopts, the now alert reader will become aware of a sense of literary cubism, confronted as we are with a many faceted examination of modern living, technology and the attendant remoteness and distance that seems to occur as a resulting symptom. For Pointing at the Sun illustrates this beautifully with its cityscape and its inhabitants viewed through this alternative lense.  The poet then involves us with an attempt to show how we could, and should, reconnect to the natural, the spiritual and the ancient. He asserts how the natural especially does already have a connection to modern life. A meditation on this can be found Inside the Bonsai where “Clipping around and around us precisely/ You whisper to me”

What particularly struck a sonorous chord in me is the sense, at times very obvious within Casey’s writing, of the relentless march of technology whether it be a beneficial thing or not. Virtual Companion offers this starkly with the opening scene setting line “this android I married.”

Whilst not averse to the straightforward rhyme and the one occasion of the alliteration that literally goes on alliterating for what seems like forever, with Bar Beings, these obvious devices lull the reader into a false sense of security about his far from obvious subject-matter. Casey is also unafraid of the interspersing of material that delights in what can be described I feel best as ridiculousness an example being matchbox where the poetry becomes ever more compressed along with our subject.

What we complete in an all too brief fifty five pages is a detailed character study of the poet.  From the perception of his roots in ancient Ireland to his railing against technology and the effect it is having upon us spiritually and socially. Virtual Tides is however designed to allow you to free your mind and imagine and therein lies this poet’s greatest gift.

Paul Casey, I have become an admirer. In dipping back into this collection I’ll be meeting you regularly inside the bonsai, that is watered fluoride free, as you would wish.

Matt Richardson.

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