Monday, August 26, 2013

Introduction to Celebrations in the Ossuary

Today I'm featuring Philip Tate, English Professor, who not only was an inspiration to my nephew Kyle Knapp but he was kind enough to write this perceptive introduction to Kyle's posthumous poetry collection, Celebrations in the Ossuary:

Near the beginning of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land the speaker says, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” And quite a fear it is, appearing in the opening section “The Burial of the Dead,” and evoking the biblical reminder of our ultimate return to the earth. A similar reminder appears in the title of this work, Celebrations in the Ossuary. An ossuary is a place for bones of the dead, oftentimes many dead. But where Eliot gives us fear, Kyle Knapp offers a celebration. In the ossuary! And what sort of celebration might we expect in a storage container for bones? Paradoxically, it is a celebration of life.

In “Camping” we see the joy of nights in the woods, so pleasant that for the rest of the year “nothing at all seemed to matter.” Or it is a perfect day composed of simple pleasures and ending with “her laughter.” Even when “Writing Letters Alone in the Light of the Alcove” it is a celebration of “... three men / Drunk and dancing on the ocean floor.”

But it is an ossuary, and these poems capture the loss, the regret, the acknowledgement of ultimate doom. There is an edge to the celebration, the clear sense that much of what brings pleasure brings pain as well. While Eliot gives us fear, Kyle Knapp reminds us that life is worth celebrating, even though “Every bone / dust.”

Celebrations in the Ossuary by Kyle J. Knapp is now available through Amazon and CreateSpace, and it will be available as a Kindle ebook soon. If you would like a review copy, please leave a comment with your email in the comments and specify print or ebook. Or write me directly at paladin-1@hotmail.com.

Profits from sales of Kyle's collection will go to his family and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

8 comments:

Mates said...

What a great intro!! Kyle found life harsh and unforgiving. To find joy and light in the darkness woven through his thoughts is truly a blessing to me. Even though I felt that joy and saw that light in him I am so happy to see it expressed for the world to see as well.

David Cranmer said...

It took Mr. Tate's insightful intro for me to see the celebration in Celebrations. I first only saw these extremely dark poems but you didn't, right? I remember warning you they could disturb you and your reaction was similar to Mr. Tate's: a joyful reminder that life is worth living to the fullest.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wonderful. I'm looking forward to getting into the collection.

Oscar said...

Celebrate while we can. I haven't read any of the poems, but I might.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks, Charles.

Oscar, I hope you do, sir. And I will have a few posted at BEAT to a PULP next week.

Richard Prosch said...

T.S. Eliot's no small shakes to be compared to. Kyle's titles alone evoke strong images --I really like "Writing Letters Alone in the Light of the Alcove." Like Charles, I can't wait to explore...

David Cranmer said...

The alcove he speaks of is the back porch where he would sit and type away, Rich. That part of the house was never really used for anything until he set up shop. It was an enclosed porch that my dad built on to the mobile home in the early 1980's. Damn, I can see him there now...

Ron Scheer said...

I'm thinking how the content of today's social media is a noisy distraction from the quiet truth to be found facing our fears in poems like this.