The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

You might have seen that I’ve been singing praises about the Pigeonhole app. If you didn’t see my post here’s a quick link. I received an email after reviewing The Book of Crows that if I linked to where I had reviewed the book I could win a copy of Sam Meekings The Other Shore. So that’s what I did. Clever Lizzo. I received the lovliest postcard in the post and a copy of the book. Here’s what I thought. (Oh, and this is another 5 minute review – to mix it up.)

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

Blurb

The Other Shore is a collection that explores the many different voices the dead use to speak with the living. We travel through modern China and beyond, to the underworlds, in poems that present a fresh take on grief, our concept of the afterlife, and acceptance of loss.

My Review

The introductory note mentions that The Other Shore is a book of poems about the voices the dead use to speak with us. It comes after Sam’s exploration of The Silk Road after a family bereavement. The translations of poems come from the Tang Dynasty era of poetry that Sam drew on due to it ‘brevity and playfulness.’ Through the translations that Meekings creates he hopes to adapt traditional forms into new ideas. Nice.

Please forgive me my poetry reviews are not up to scratch but I’m going to try. I loved the mix of poems that have been collated. I liked how each of the poems revolved around the idea of one journey ending and another beginning. For example this line from Karaoke as Kublai Khan

“The deadline comes just as I’m belting out Xanadu. 

Tommorrow, according to the plan, I will be someone new.'”

It created a very succinct collection of poems that strung together seamlessly.

Favourites included Mooring (translation of Du Mu.) Which I’ve included as a sneak peak.

“Mist like a calf’s tongue, tentative and slick,

dabs at shadows by the riverside inn

where drunks, without a care for this defeated kingdom,

sing of yellow lillies, narcissus, peony and hibiscus.’ 

It’s been a while since I’ve really wanted to dig into the creation of a poem but this collection really stretched my knowledge. I spent a good couple of hours going through and pencilling through my book everything I didn’t understand. For a novice poetry reader this is a great place to start.

I liked how the mix of poems really stretched my knowledge of poetry. A few are reallllly short a couple are very long and extensive. The contrast between them kept me interested throughout. I did have to Google bits and pieces throughout but by the end I really felt like I understood the collection. (Always a nice feeling.)

Final Thoughts

Favourites from the selection of poems included ‘things I have been told about the emerald sea.’ The writing throughout each of the poems (especially this one) is incredibly evocative and the poem Roommates definitely hit a lot of chords. For all the right reasons.

This was a brilliant poetry book to add to my collection. (Thank you to Sam and Pigeonhole!) I really enjoyed working through these poems and feel like it’s stretched my knowledge of different poems. The only thing I wish was there were more people talking about these poems so I could chat with others about the meanings I deduced. Great book of poems. Laved it.

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

The Other Shore by Sam Meekings

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