Book of the Month: January 2021
The Gull and The Bell Tower. By Kari Flickinger.
The confessional poems in Kari Flickinger's The Gull and the Bell Tower capture a wide canvas of emotions, with fleeting, often surrealistic observations that convey fear of social-detachment and the painful weight of rejection – “our skulls heavy/ in our carven heads”, to wry musings on love and relationships – “most/ promises were constructed/ entirely of words”.
In a collection full of shifts and playful experimentation, poems with an oblique, classically-inspired style were a particular draw with distant, fragmented echoes of the imagist poet, H.D., “Your sweltering eyelids—a stripe of lightning/ crack me—a walnut. I reach a little—/ so late”. As a romantic writer, Flickinger shows an expert use of extended metaphor in ‘In a Sentimental Mood’, one of several stand-out poems that display a real sense of ingenuity and originality. There's a postmodern spirit at work through the collection, that never strays into wilful obscurity, or leaves us cold, but keeps the reader guessing, opening up rich, multiple interpretations.
This debut collection offers dazzling imagery, universal feelings articulated through poetry that we often struggle to express, and wry humour.
Kari Flickinger’s The Gull and the Bell Tower is a fine addition to any poetry library and will be one of the standouts of 2021.