The Burlesque Press Variety Show has just published my review of Kelly McQuain’s poetry collection, Velvet Rodeo. There, I muse about time, memory, growing older, and whether it’s harder for writers to represent the past or the present. Here are the first two paragraphs of the review:
What is the relationship between the past and the present? Is the present merely the most recent bit of the past, the part of life closest to us only by coincidence, or is the present instead a vantage point, a high place under which all of our older memories stand arrayed? And is there, too, a present tense or a now-moment that is separate from time entirely, a place of being rather than becoming, the hub of the wheel, a still unmoving place that says, “no matter what, I am myself”? Or is that unchanging hub just a sentimental illusion?
Reading Kelly McQuain’s chapbook of poems, Velvet Rodeo, I felt fascinated by the poet’s many portrayals of his past, his often elliptical presentations of his present, and I wanted his book to go on longer. I wanted to his exploration of time and identity to keep developing and building: Velvet Rodeo finishes not with the summational gravity of a conclusion, but rather with a fresh burst of energy, a heightening of tone, as if McQuain is just about to start afresh, in a new mode, with a new approach. I hope very much to be able to read that book.