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'Your Father on the Train of Ghosts' -- Oxford Brookes Poetry Center's featured poem!

your-father-on-the-train-of-ghosts Over the course of a year, acclaimed poets G.C. Waldrep and John Gallaher wrote poems back and forth to one another on an almost daily basis. From this communication emerged the collection Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (BOA, 2011). The title poem of the collection is this week's featured poem by the Oxford Brookes University Poetry Center. The poem is described by the OBU Poetry Center as a  "user-friendly self-help manual for the end of time. " It explores not only the voices of the two artists, but a subtle third 'voice' that emerges along their journey. John Gallaher, co-editor of the Laurel Review and recipient of many awards including the Boston Review poetry prize, recently gave his own thoughts on the challenges presented by the nature of writing in an e-interview with the cant journal blog. From Gallaher's perspective, the writing exemplified in Your Father on the Train of Ghosts involves navigating the relationship between concrete experiences and the malleable means of communicating them. This "undecideability" means determining "our own balance between the certain and the plastic." Waldrep and Gallaher's poetry is a clear evocation of this process, superimposing the hypothetical onto the actual in a style that recalls the title of Gallaher's earlier collection, Guesses. Gallaher explores this further: "Thought is messy, and language is a set of controls to form that into something that others might be able to receive. Because of the social nature of language and the private nature of thought, it is difficult for us in daily life to remain consistent in what we say, for each new saying creates a slightly different message. One of the ways the word arts, and poetry in particular, can find power... is by playing with, or investigating, this relationship between thought and language. There is profit to be found in wandering through these veils." Be sure to check out Gallaher's interview in its entirety on the cant journal blog (including some thrilling action shots of Gallaher, himself), and see what else the OBU Poetry Center has to say about this week's featured poem. Meanwhile, G.C. Waldrep, recently made editor of West Branch and with work forthcoming in various magazines such as The Boston Review and Crazyhorse, has also had his share of interviews recently. The three interviews connect and overlap, each adding to the 'picture of Waldrep' that has been forming. In one interview, by Permafrost, Waldrep stresses the importance and validity of imagination. And in another, he clearly follows through on this thought, letting his imagination produce some truly compelling reading in the Likesterlings, "On Epistolary Poetics." And all of these recent interviews ask Waldrep how faith affects his poetry and his views on poetry. In the Permafrost interview, Waldrep says that his poetry is like prayer, related, though not the same. In an interview by The Journal, Waldrep says that he personally has never doubted his central beliefs, but his poetry can at times explore doubt. To him, poetry has always been a "spiritual vocation." He aspires to live a life unified with Christ; while poetry is also an aspiration, each poem trying to reach its ideal form, he connects. If those doses of G.C. Waldrep and John Gallaher don't satisfy you, immerse yourself in their full collection, available at the BOA Bookstore.


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