ISBN-13: 978-0-9753095-8-2 ($19.95)
Pony One Dog Press
Poetry and the Concept of Maya:
Text and Commentary David Churchill
on the poetry of Alan Britt
Review by Patty Dickson Pieczka
The Concept of Maya is a push-and-pull tango between two interesting mindsets—fanciful and analytical. When Alan Britt writes about plants in his yard, vines grow along his arm and wind down his finger, curving around his pen until they sprout on the page. David Churchill helps us dissect these leaves until every vein bleeds, using the prism of Maya, which reflects the light of poetry with three rays: one to obscure truth, another to project a world of broken forms, and a third that reveals the radiance of full consciousness and shows us the various levels of reality within the poem.
The poems in Chapter One are chilling in their simplicity and double meanings. On the surface, they appear to depict a suburban backyard, but set during the time of the tower bombings, a rough edge is scorched onto them, as in the poem, “September, 2001”
. . . a distant white dog
gnawing the first hour of late afternoon….
September leans on a split-rail fence
and watches yellow leaves
sail by in a swirling gust of ashes.
In Chapter Two, Churchill reminds us to search out the face of the speaker by finding consistencies from one poem to the next. Nature is a nearly constant theme, but here, Britt branches into poems about love, poetry, music, and delivers more beautiful and thought-provoking imagery as in, “Marrying Myths.”
I married a myth.
She drifted away.
in the throat of a gold mine….
….But, tonight, I feel like dreaming
a new myth,
one with hips
of black wine,
one whose kisses resemble rainbirds
in shiny long black coats
strolling like stately gods of pepper
over St. Croix’s windy white sand
strewn with bruised yellow
and green palm fronds….
Churchill encourages us, in Chapter Three, to experience poetry as a child, seeing everything for the first time. This is never difficult with Britt’s poetry with its imagistic and unique perspectives. Consider his poem, “The Stars.”
The stars are shamans.
They paint arroyos
the universe’s thin waist,
Chapter Four takes a philosophical turn:
“Thoreau Says We Must Live Within Two Miles of Our Primary Childhood”
in my significant dream
as solid as a wild mustang
of dry Arizona wind.
like hollow, red,
The Context of Maya is the kind of book that alters the mind. David Churchill studies the aerodynamics of Alan Britt as he drifts on his helium flight of unexplored concepts of poetry, swooping close to the ground only long enough to pick a flower that is likely to turn into a swarm of blue butterflies forming words in the clouds.
Lately I've been listening to a lot of the Facebook videos from Smalls Jazz Club in New York. I like that they feature many young musicians or at least some who are new to me. Here are a few:
This video with the alto saxophonist Plume and drummer Kush Abadey is from before the pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrrkmQ5Ca-s
Vincent Herring and Eric Alexander's video is not from Smalls, but I thought I'd include it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fEChBa7rVY
I'll finish with one more....The Nir Felder 4 play "Memorial": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBZ9zZXoOBk