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Buoyancy and Other Myths by Richard Peabody

Buoyancy and Other Myths by Richard Peabody is a slim collection that gets at the heart of family drama broken into three parts:  Shooting Myself in the Foot, Kissing Games, and Between Funerals.  The narrator in these poems ages and matures from a young boy eager to help his father but afraid of falling short to an older man similarly worried about falling short, but more accepting of reality.

Unlike the young man in “Family Secrets” who is shaking sense into his brother, the man in the latter poems, like “Orbits,” comes to the realization that the past cannot be hidden and regrets do nothing but hold you back.  You must roll with the punches.  What is striking in some of these poems is the calmness of the narrator, even as violent thoughts or actions are being displayed.  For instance, in “Family Secrets” (page 11) — which is a powerful way to start a collection — “Music isn’t enough tonight./Scratching, clawing, eyes like stones./If I erase him I will expand./His sins wiped clean. Nowhere/for him to leer from. No perch/or receptacle that can hold that/particular weight. He gives up./”  Is his brother still living and he wishes that he didn’t have to remember him or is it what happened to his brother that he does not wish to remember and it would be easier to erase him entirely?

Nearing the end of the collection, it seems as though this narrator has found peace or at least outwardly demonstrates contentment, or is it resignation?  In “I Live Behind a Bakery” (page 55-6), “Only most days/it’s easier/to just read a book/with that smell/all around me/and think buttery thoughts.//”  Peabody has a lot of cutesy ideas that he plays with in his poetry, like living behind a bakery or dating vampires, but these images are metaphors for other things like the contentment that you find in the simple things of life or even in the relationships you have.  However, there is an undercurrent in these poems urging readers to move beyond contentment, leap into more dangerous and possibly fulfilling territory.

Guitar Player (page 36)

Fingers know secrets
that eyes can’t understand.

While not all the poems are memorable or strong, there are a few gems within the collection’s pages that are worth reading more than once. Some are simply powerful in a few lines. Buoyancy and Other Myths by Richard Peabody explores the nature of relationships and how they propel us to greater things to seek out new directions and yes, to grow.

About the Poet:

Richard Peabody, a prolific poet, fiction writer and editor, is an experienced teacher and important activist in the Washington , D.C., community of letters. Peabody is the editor of Gargoyle Magazine (founded in 1976), and has published a novella, two books of short stories, six books of poems, plus an e-book, and edited (or co-edited) nineteen anthologies including: “Mondo Barbie,” “Conversations with Gore Vidal,” “A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation,” and “Kiss the Sky: Fiction and Poetry Starring Jimi Hendrix.” Peabody teaches fiction writing for the Johns Hopkins Advanced Studies Program.

This is my 23rd book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

 

This is my 53rd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

This is a stop on The Literary Road Trip since Richard Peabody is a local Washington, D.C., area poet.

  • I love how even when you might not love every poem in a collection, there are always a couple gems that are memorable. Great review!

    • There are very few collections that I haven’t found one poem to like at least! Overall this whole collection was just Ok, but there are some favorites in here.