Composting For All; the enigmatic poems of Hubert Tsarko

This is less an objective reviewer's review and more a plug for a friend's book. But my friend John, the man behind Hubert Tsarko, really is a decent poet, and worth a look if you value mysterious wordcraft.

John has been growing as a poet for the thirty-odd years I've known him. This is his first collection, which goes to show what a long time poets take to mature. I travelled with him back in our youth, through the South of France, picking grapes and drinking their pressed fermented product, talking about writing and occasionally doing some.

On our way to castrate maize in Riscle (the title of one of the poems in this collection), in the wake of an ill-advised Mercury invocation intended to speed up the hitch-hiking, we got our lift, with a man who stole our bags and papers. On the table in the café he left us a plastic diary, which I took up and used as my own diary until it was full. I still have it somewhere. That summer and autumn was a richly interesting chain of experiences, but I never took up la vie routiére as a lifestyle the way John did.

This is a collection of the realistic alchemized into the thoroughly dreamlike. Or more accurately: the inner world as it is painted upon towns, lovers, bars, rooms, arguments. Poetry as something embedded in the immediate sensory world and yet existing outside of time, in some more real realm. An incredibly private world made by skill into something enjoyable for certain others.

The titles of these poems give us some idea of what to expect, but not everything: Places from the wanderings of a full time artist, tiny incidents such as 'The Cat Sat On My Glasses' (which in itself contains an unexpected glance into a world that may be either burglary or bondage), ironical or dreamlike detournements of stock phrases and titles, such as 'The Life That Lives on Man' or, invoking loathing, 'Final Solution'.

One of my favourite poems is East. I love the ending, and somehow it fits the tone of the whole collection:

There must be an attic

somewhere he could
fill with paraphernalia
and solitary intentions

Bless your solitary intentions John.


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