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spacer.gif   SUSPECT THREE: TOM ROBY
Posted by : cj on Monday, December 06, 2004 - 10:55 AM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Griever's Circuit
A Chapbook by Tom Roby
Fractal Edge Press, 2004
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


Like Constance Vogel's The Mulberry, Tom Roby's new book is a therapeutic metamorphosis. In it, grief becomes art and loss becomes self-examination. The emptiness found after the death of a loved one is filled by the very nature surrounding us all.

It's always yellow now in the flower beds.
Even at night the pansies and tulips take on
street lamp luster, amplify it, zing it back,
bragging that they have the better power lines.
Yellow blinds me. It makes the oranges
look peach, the purples go lilac, lightens
the whole world. In full sunlight I can barely
discern the muted mauves that you loved.
Is this how far I've come without you,
to have your shade banished from our rainbow?


(from "Bridges")

As can be seen in the above lines, there is a remarkable depth found within the pages of Tom Roby's writing. This is a depth that escapes the listener when the words are performed in the breezy fashion the author often surrenders to at his live readings, a beauty of language that can hardly be duplicated by smug actors. It's as if the pain that serves as the inspiration for his poetry is too large of a load to completely lift off the page.

The poems in this book come alive with a clear sense of place, making it all the more personal. The book is stitched together with references to local sights, and it moves forward with the push of the Windy City's unpredictable weather:

trumpet yellow into the skies as a radio alarm
to wake up the sun,
so our words became
tempests of petals from Millennium Park's
flowering young trees, who don't hang onto
last year's berries, but delight in the rush
of wind and time, providing dessert for lake ducks


(from "Cenotaph")

Tom Roby draws a series of lines, each representing the change happening before his eyes. Lines are drawn representing the change in the city landscape:

The cranes I need are outside my window:
a word for birds soaring to immortality;
a term for grounded implements of engineers,
whose buildings will soon block my south view.


(from "Cranes")

lines are drawn representing the change in weather:

one stormy summer day along the causeway
of Chicago's Monroe harbor, I stumbled into

that picture again, alone in a forest of masts
with the dark light twisting between cross spars
like church bells clanging for the lost sun


(from "Grayed Watercolor")

lines are drawn representing the change from day to night, night to day, season to season, life to death, life with a partner to life, continuing, alone:

true landscapes of love, starting with small sylvan shrubs
without florets, but gradually raising my hopes through the hot
sticky summer, telling me to look to early fall, season of gratitude
for all fruitful years, as iridescent annuals send me
your soft calming talcum that increases my confidence


(from "Flower Beds")

These lines of change never cross paths, but travel to infinity, parallel, near each other but forever separate. Rather than being frustrated by the marvel of their never connecting, Roby chooses to be fascinated by the mysteries found between them. What he discovers between the lines are twenty of the most sentimental poems to have come out of the Millennial Age of poetry.

Ultimately, Grievers Circuit is an act of spite against Death itself, a shine-on to the Grim Reaper, proof that a victim of loss can survive and overcome, that the grief can be used productively, and that hope has not been defeated.

Fractal Edge Press has made an important move in publishing this melancholy maneuver. The world needs to read work that is honest in its human emotion, especially in these times, during which we are fooled into shutting out the misery and cruelty from our senses. In a big way, these poems may be considered anti-war poems; though politics are avoided at all costs, they encourage a freedom to feel which is a dissent against the inhuman attitudes of power that allow death to pass by our eyes without so much as a tear being shed.

--C. J. Laity

Tom Roby will be celebrating the release of Grieverís Circuit on Sunday, October 24, from 3:00 Ė 5:00 PM, at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Headquarters, 1856 Sheridan Road, in Evanston. There will be a reading followed by a Champagne Buffet and Book Signing.

Back to the investigation.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. ChicagoPoetry.com needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by ChicagoPoetry.com Press.




Note: Like Constance Vogel's The Mulberry, Tom Roby's new book is a therapeutic metamorphosis. In it, grief becomes art and loss becomes self-examination. The emptiness found after the death of a loved one is filled by the very nature surrounding us all.

 
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