The Blooming Void
Peter Fernbach’s first book length collection of poems, The Blooming Void, explores the facets of the human psyche and its hidden compulsions— the importance of personal and social identity, hegemony, capitalism, our search for meaning in language and our affinity for the past. In his exploration of these philosophical, political and social concerns, Fernbach’s poetic diction elicits a diverse range of thematically linked images that demand multiple readings. He weaves a patchwork of evocative, rhythmic prose composed of striking symbolism, addresses literary works like Ulysses and responds to philosophical quandaries of religion and scientific skepticism in “In Response to Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.”
Firmly addressing slavery inherent in capitalism in “The New Slavery”, “as toys under a tree/With little marks that read/Made in China” and middle class wars, Fernbach complements these social reflections against quiet, tender moments with a lover in “Morning Light” and spiritual renewal through incantations in “The Moon”. In “Morning Light” there are passages where the reader becomes fully immersed in an instance of personal revelation as the narrator discovers solace, “through the streaks of morning light/ Sleeping by my side/ Soft and satisfied.” It’s an intensely personal account of looking back over a past filled with misdirection and mistakes. The solace addressed in this poem carries over into other selections producing an overall calm and contemplative texture.
This collection is filled with a valiant effort to compress and translate the modern human condition through the full spectrum of human emotion. Bookending the collection with “These Words”, in which the desire to express oneself is made explicit and intense and “What Words”, a faithful plea to contemplate, “A better world/ Peace, love,” Fernbach offers readers a forum in which his unique play of language brings delight and stirs our emotional perceptions.
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