By Carolyn Gelland
Main Street Rag Publishing Co., Charlotte, N.C., 2013
58 pages, trade paperback, $11
Reviewed by Dana Wilde

Lost in the shuffle of everyday errands, high prices and political outrages is the fact that Maine, like most everywhere, has a lot of percolating little poetry scenes, some in colleges, some in local gatherings, and some operating privately by themselves, occasionally leaking the results out in public.
Carolyn Gelland, of Wilton, recently released her second collection of poems, “Dream-Shuttle,” from her poetic vicinity. True to the book’s title, her tersely phrased poems  traverse not the daylight social world, but instead the inner no-man’s-land between sleep and awake.

Gelland is a master of the long-practiced technique of placing exactly the wrong word in exactly the right place, and the result is a dreamlike atmosphere that seems random but has, as the poet Hart Crane stated it long ago, the logic of metaphor. “Voices,” the collection opens, “erect in the mongol / gates of my ears, / tremble on long stems.” This unexpected phrasing expresses a state of consciousness that is neither awake nor asleep, but listening in a place in between.

All the poems in the book are either descending (“Sunlight, falling through windows / set with agates”) or rising (“Night leaps from the ocean”) through this moonlit vicinity. 

One of the most intriguing finds in Gelland’s shuttles between dreaming and waking is “Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.” Gaudier-Brzeska was a young sculptor killed in World War I, of whom the influential American poet Ezra Pound made a shining example. The speaker of the poem, apparently visiting a corpse-piled battlefield in a dream, talks with Gaudier, who explains:

“I’m not at all
bored in the trenches,” he said.
“It is not that someone

present comes,
but that someone hidden

 In these poems, what’s hidden — starlight, art, friends, the beloved deceased, more — appears and disappears with numinous clarity. Dream-Shuttle is one of the really worthwhile books of poetry to leak from Maine’s often unseen poetry world recently. Well worth picking up for an afternoon dream.
Gelland’s first collection is Four-Alarm House (2012), also published by Main Street Rag.

Dana Wilde is a copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. He also writes the column “Backyard Naturalist.”

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