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Ghostspeaking by Peter Boyle (Vagabond Press)
Ghostspeaking is a multi-layered, multifaceted book that makes use of both poetry and prose to present eleven heteronymous poets to whom the author has given French, Latin American and Canadian nationalities. Each poet has a different history and voice; their poems brim with philosophical, metaphysical, social and cultural enquiry, created through the author’s skill. Along with the fictive poets, there is the compelling voice of the ‘translator’, whose footnotes and potted biographies of the fictive authors are detailed and playful, and who, cleverly, is the twelfth heteronym. The emotional pressure points in the poetry, taken from both dreams and reality, are rooted in the specifics of experience and feeling.
The range of this book is panoramic and the language, which is clear and luminous, is weighted towards exploring the light and dark aspects of human mystery. The poems take in many perspectives and reflect the self in its various modalities and moods. This is a work of sustained imagination.
This remarkable book — blending the best of poetry, fiction and annotated ‘translation’ — captures the lives of 11 imagined poets (and of the 12th, the poet-translator whose voice threads itself through the whole collection). These voices, and the stories they tell, remain in the mind, haunting the reader much as the ghosts of the title — loss, grief and spectral apparitions — haunt the fictive poets. Captivating the reader with its rendition of pathos and ethos, this work is distinguished by its ambitious scope and imaginative range, its diversity of voice and its outstanding quality of craft.