New Books Network

Tim Tomlinson

Yolanda

An Oral History in Verse of Super-Typhoon

Finishing Line Press 2015

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in PoetryNew Books Network October 10, 2015 Jen Fitzgerald

Think of a place you have visited and to which you feel a connection. Now think of that place in utter ruin and devastation...

thomlinsonThink of a place you have visited and to which you feel a connection. Now think of that place in utter ruin and devastation mere months later. You feel a pull, a pull to return, to help, and to make sense of the heavy fist nature can bring down on us at any time. Tomlinson personally gathered hours upon hours of eye-witness accounts, conversations, and testimonies. Translated and then transcribed, he pulled the poems directly from the transcriptions, as a sculptor would uncover a human form from within a block of marble. These poems go beyond what we understand as “poems of witness” and become “poems of testimony,” life rendered into verse in the purest sense.

we saw the barge
as well as the darkening of the world
my house was nothing
the barge was on top of our house
and the houses were gone
my house it was nothing anymore
a little portion of a steel bar

Through the disassociation needed to survive such trauma and begin to reshape rubble into a life, moments of clarity and realization are apparent, he lifts these moments so that we may see them clearly. This collection is labor of devotion and should be celebrated. Tomlinson reminds us that art is life, elevated.