(the following review will also be published in Volume 2, Issue 1)
John Brantingham’s The Green of Sunset is a beautiful collection of prose poetry. Brantingham explores the human psyche to depths we, ourselves, almost refuse to acknowledge until present with truths we prefer to not think about. And that is exactly what he does. Yet he treats each subject and each emotion with the utmost respect and humanity. The only judgment he makes, if any, is on his own follies and we, as readers, can learn to laugh at our own.
The collection is a series of breathless poems, power beyond the measure of each. He explores a wide range of humanity and human experience from youth to loss, people in relation to nature, memory, and even briefly a body swap all with deceptively simple language.
… but I wasn’t afraid because my mother was framed in the back door, calling to me, and that fundamentalist faith I had that as long as she was there even God couldn’t reach out his hand and strike me down for the sins written on my childhood soul.
Brantingham is a master of the written word—each choice is deliberate and reflects the meaning of the whole poem and collection, building into a crescendo for each ending. There are no punches pulled and nowhere left to hide from confronting his reality—a reality we all know too well. His personal reflections are those we recognize as fleeting moments in our own lives, these deep secrets we try to hide from are brought to life on the page.
Anders is probably the first poet I’ve ever known who distrusts academia and teachers and schools and education in general. …. He tells me about why he didn’t finish high school, about the physics teacher who belittled him in front of his friends. He tells me about how when I was in college, he was bumming his way through Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and South America. …. He’s like so many of the students I’ve seen, feeling like outsiders, being told that they don’t belong.
from “Up Here in Rural Canada”
The Green of Sunset is a collection to turn to at any moment, to read and re-read until the pages are worn. You may or may not find comfort within the book, but you will find parts of you that you didn’t know had wandered off.