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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Profits from sales of Kyle's collection will go to his family and Tompkins Cortland Community College.