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Epiphaneia

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Written with maturity, experience and wisdom, Epiphaneia is of a poetic calibre a cut above the rest.

Synopsis

WINNER of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2020

Set in the immediate aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, the most catastrophic storm to strike the British Virgin Islands, Richard Georges’ Epiphaneia stands as a collection of rich, transcendental verse. Beyond the loss and devastation that such a natural disaster brings, Georges’ ideas span beyond the physical world, asking us to consider the ways in which families and communities come together amidst such tragedy.

Blood runs under the earth. A father will instruct his daughter to the hills where their ancestors are buried. A flying man opens a door in the sky. Children play in the twisted roots of a landscape both dangerous and triumphant. Constantly attuned to the devastating power of nature and where the body, too, is ‘a precarious house’, these poems are hymns to the resilience of the human spirit. Georges locates in the negative space of aftermath both the ghosts of history, and the mythic beginnings of a yet unlived, rejuvenated world.

“An island browns in the sea, a boy beats a drum, tongues swell up with language. These poems are astonishing, largely unprecedented. Georges has written a truly living text.” - Kaveh Akbar

Written during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Epiphaneia is a collection which explores life, loss, grief and community. From the very beginning, Georges speaks with maturity, experience and wisdom; immediately placing Epiphaneia above several, current poetry releases as its poetic calibre ensures it deserves a space on everyone’s bookshelf. 


At times, Georges’ writing is reminiscent of some of the greatest modern poets. In ‘On Remembering’ I caught echoes of Plath, whilst pieces like ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘A Longer Loneliness’ recalled the way Heaney wrote about Ireland. But, Georges’ individual voice is loud and stark. It is rare every poem in a collection causes you to pause, recognise you are in the grip of an incredibly talented writer, and then continue. With each poem, I savoured the poignant truth in Georges’ verses; in his ability to communicate ancient soul-deep feelings with enviable piquancy. 


goodbye comes in languages I cannot remember,
I cannot understand anymore.”
(Too Full of Vermouth and Cigarette Smoke)


“to submerge in this gorgeous too full life.”
(The Logic of Perceiving)


Georges writes with a taste of life lived with love and fear in both hands. Thus, as Epiphaneia moves on to poems directly inspired by Hurricane Irma, the grief, hope and sense of community is palpable. 


‘The Storm is Here...’ and ‘An Inventory for Survival’ both vividly capture the ecological destruction wrought by the hurricane and how we always seek to rebuild what we have lost - even in our heartache, even in the knowledge we cannot recover everything. Consequently, there is great sadness at times but Georges continues to uncover hope wherever it can be found. 


“birds loops like kites, the sun remains a star
and we are still here”
(Still Life of a Ruin)


“I’ve begun to learn that devastateddoes not mean dead,
that ruin can be resplendent,
that what has been emptied can be filled.”
(The Year Has Become More Beautiful)


‘Altricial’ too, is a beautiful commentary on beginning again. 


Georges does not miss a beat. Every poem reaches out and touches the reader - comforts and consoles them, shares universal truths with the hope to swallow them. 


Epiphaneia finishes with the strength it opens with. The prosetry piece ‘Notes on the Road Town’ alongside ‘Heartache is for Lovers...’ and ‘A Mixtape for Tortola’ leave you with the bittersweet reminder that nothing in life lasts forever yet some things (like our capability to love and lose) will never change. 

Reviewed by

I am an English teacher and a writer. I published my first poetry collection, Between the Trees, in May 2019. I read widely and avidly and review through Reedsy Discovery, Amazon Vine and individual review requests. All reviews are published on Amazon, Goodreads and my blog - My Screaming Twenties.

Synopsis

WINNER of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature 2020

Set in the immediate aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, the most catastrophic storm to strike the British Virgin Islands, Richard Georges’ Epiphaneia stands as a collection of rich, transcendental verse. Beyond the loss and devastation that such a natural disaster brings, Georges’ ideas span beyond the physical world, asking us to consider the ways in which families and communities come together amidst such tragedy.

Blood runs under the earth. A father will instruct his daughter to the hills where their ancestors are buried. A flying man opens a door in the sky. Children play in the twisted roots of a landscape both dangerous and triumphant. Constantly attuned to the devastating power of nature and where the body, too, is ‘a precarious house’, these poems are hymns to the resilience of the human spirit. Georges locates in the negative space of aftermath both the ghosts of history, and the mythic beginnings of a yet unlived, rejuvenated world.

“An island browns in the sea, a boy beats a drum, tongues swell up with language. These poems are astonishing, largely unprecedented. Georges has written a truly living text.” - Kaveh Akbar

Dead Reckoning

They say birds always find their way back home

but home is a nowhere – a memory; a never was.


Do wings remember spaces in the air

the way we might a place? A field of rice?


How do you fly back to that? Away from

           a tomb of fears, this place yearning for you…


Some years ago, I lay bright flowers on

my grandmother’s grave. Years before, I saw


my grandfather’s ashes taken by the

furrowing wind in the Bocas islands.


I am not myself nor have I ever been

something apprehending the sun


and other bright celestial objects

thinking: this is a tapestry in orbit


around me. I am completely convinced that

we were the last creatures to discover


how to be in the world. My beard grows wild.

My children brush past me in the darkness.


Their chattering voices fill my ears and

then my chest and I cannot hold it in.


I am always coming home.

About the author

Richard Georges is the author of three collections of poems, Make Us All Islands (Shearsman), Giant (Platypus), and Epiphaneia (OutSpoken). He is a winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and has been shortlisted for Best First Collection from the Forward Prizes for Poetry. view profile

Published on November 10, 2019

Published by OutSpoken Press

4000 words

Genre: Poetry

Reviewed by

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