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Melodic Chairs

November 20, 2012 by · No comments

Book review: Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs
By Andrew Merton
Accents Publishing, 2012
Reviewed byJourney McAndrews

Andrew Merton - Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs

Chickens and crows. Galaxies and gallows. Age and alchemy. Sometimes a collection of poetry comes along that is so evocative and sincere in its exploration, so enthralling and authentic in its pathos, that each line leaves readers “trembling in anticipation” of what is to come.

In his debut poetry collection Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs, Andrew Merton, a political reporter and writing professor, tenaciously explores the landmines of war—“he wobbles like a prisoner on the edge of a grave”, the reverberation of death—“I taste my mother’s ashes”, the irony of God—“that day in the garden . . . He rolled snake-eyes”, the memory of unusual love—“flecked black by countless washings”, the wreckage of depression—“the fanatic mind is to the brain what magma is to a volcano”, and many other unnerving but necessary themes which the poet adroitly links back to the figurative chairs that bear the resemblance of humans at rest.

The melodic and melancholy tone of the collection carries readers along into the most fragile and lovely circumstances of life, but somewhere in the muck and mire of mental illness, grief, and recollection, readers discover “something gorgeous out of everything.”

The collection blends philosophy with imagination and poignantly envisages a time in the future when “each letter will be written to whom it may not concern.” With its unique linguistic leaps and candid narratives, Evidence that We Are Descended from Chairs is fascinating, meditative, and humorous, and despite its complex themes, its wisdom comes “like the quiet of an empty house.”

About the Author

Andrew Merton has been a political reporter and columnist for the Gloucester (Massachusetts) Times, The Boston Herald Traveler and the Boston Globe, and a contributing editor with Boston Magazine.

His articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Ms. Magazine, Yankee Magazine and The Boston Phoenix. His book Enemies of Choice was published by Beacon Press in 1980, and his anthology In Your Own Voice: A Writer’s Reader was published by HarperCollins in 1995.

His poetry has appeared in The Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Powhatan Review, Paper Street, The Comstock Review, Silk Road, Third Wednesday, The American Journal of Nursing and elsewhere. He teaches writing at the University of New Hampshire.

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