This is the last month of our Summer Readalong. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, even if you’re not usually a poetry reader.
This month we’re reading Far From Luck by Charles O’Hay. Charlie is a longtime reader and a personal friend of mine, and I loved this book of poems when it first came out. Charlie has a very urban and urbane sensibility, and his poetry always makes me think of The City. For me The City is New York, but I mean that in the sense of any American city that you have a love/hate relationship with. For Charlie that’s New York (where he grew up) and Philadelphia (the city he lives near now).
Charlie’s poems really capture the grimy underside of life, but also the beauty and starkness of the human experience. I don’t find the poems sad–even the actual sad ones–because the way Charlie tells them is such a tribute to the human experience. The last stanza of the poem “Undoing” hits this for me:
“In the light at end of day
they draw shadows where men once worked
and died like machines. “
The humanity inside the landscape, and the beauty of nature overlaying the abandoned city.
These are poems to read when you’re too hot. When you’re feeling disconnected from other people and need to find some human common thread. When everyone else around you is too cheerful and you need a little grounding. Read “Rest Stop (for the book-burners)” when you wonder if you’re the only one who sees how off the rails we’ve gotten. Read “Inheritor” when you need to see more.
Read this book in bits and pieces to stave off both mania and depression. Read more of Charlie’s work on his Facebook page.