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BOOK REVIEW: The Long Blade of Days Ahead by Scott Ferry

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Emily Dickinson instructs us to “tell all the truth but tell it slant”, but poets take her words one step further; they see the world slant. This fact shines through Scott Ferry’s recent collection, The Long Blade of Days Ahead, as his work unearths the sparkle of mundane moments in a way that dazzles readers. The work is divided into three sections, though there are two main approaches explored: observational instinct and daily exercise. The result is a compelling meditation on beauty, loss, and hope.

Many pieces in this collection are inspired by simple moments in everyday life such as dropping a child off at daycare, a kitchen invasion of ants and using a passcard to enter work. One of my favorites ruminates on a basketball abandoned to gym rafters. In “when i see a ball wedged up near the ceiling”, the poet’s gaze shifts from external observation to internal metaphor, likening the object to the darkness that one carries with them just out of sight. Ferry describes the sense of this memory as something one can feel “stuck between your vocal cords and god” without the means to remove it and without the awareness to tell whether or not others can sense it.

Other poems, revolving around family, turn forward and back as the poet looks to the loss of his parents as well as connections with his children. The family garden serves as a set for growth both of the foliage and his young son who learns lessons of faith and individuality in poems including “my son discovers his shadow” and “4/7”. Interactions with the speaker’s daughter focus on moments of transition from childhood to adulthood in “santa”, where she changes from believer to accomplice and “4/27” as she explores the curvature of a female face and the speaker draws her potential future. A parent’s hopes come through situationally with rewriting Genesis and turning a mistaken injury into a “teachable moment”. Later, he acknowledges that the children are unaware that “I am closer to the exit / than to the entrance.” This realization bonds the focus on the new generation with the shadows of the past which appear through their grandfather. Images of his father awaiting his mother’s arrival in the afterlife commingle with echoes of his presence in conversations with friends.

These pieces explore not only strands of thought, but also incorporate a diverse means of structure. Some hold simplistic, nearly Haiku, insights while others employ anaphora to revise lines through new lenses. As the dates move forward, Ferry even explores more experimental forms which expand the scope of the work and insert levity into its pages, especially in “4/30 (2)”.

Scott Ferry’s work captures the winding paths of memory and mind to transform the ordinary in the evocative way only a poet can: through a running stream of thoughts, comparisons and intriguing metaphor.

The Long Blade of Days Ahead is from Impspired Press! and is available on Amazon.

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