"Language of Ashes", Joel Pablo Salud's first collection of his poems, is worth spending precious life time on. I know I have scarcely any left---physical, spiritual, even literary--- but I find reading his poems a delightful jolt (he would call it "orgasm", not afraid to use all forms of linguistic figures to capture his poetic "meanderings" --- no, not "rants") for their breadth of content and sagacity (audacity?) of style and unobtrusive technique. He describes this book as a collection of love --- and he has them aplenty, the poem for his wife Che being stellar; viz., "Your love/ So strangely swirling without shore/ Binds me to you---a feather or a wing/ Heart beat among breasts of honey." In "Song for Eve", (feminine mystique, really), he sings "...words mean little when set against/ the cuddles of suns in your eyes... how can all this be a thing too odd/ when men love more richly because of you?" It is lyrical and romantic lines like these that made me squirm with envy. Oh, that I could have shed all restraint and burst into unbridled warbling in my poetic diction! Yet, he writes: "I cannot for the sake of brevity/ Impose my will on a word..." for he declares in his ars poetica --- in "I Write" --- "I write to sculpt/ creatures, dye their/ eyes with metaphors/ primrosed by time." Indeed, his metaphors could easily be "over-the-top" were it not for their coalescing into a clear gestalt of imagery when he writes finis to a poem. This is an unerring mark of a gifted poet. Mr. Salud's collection is a stout collection of poems on persons, (writers Nick Joaquin, Edith Tiempo, F Sionil Jose, Jorge Guillen, Dylan Thomas, Che Sarigumba), politics and culture (in "Oremus", "Mendiola Massacre, 1987"), engaging musings on themes poets are never caught without, Indeed, he admits" "It is the wreckage of a soul/ where poems reign." That would even involve poems of vomits, inebriation of assholes, the naked and erotic, and bravely whimsical use of street language that en fin would sound poetic---beat that. "I am not a spool/ Of blunt words,/ A gathering of moss-eaten/ Homes, fallen trees/ And the roots of manes/ Where ingots coalesce/ Brooding and frozen." I shall not torture this "blurb" with a book review or even a critique --- not yet --- I eagerly look forward to reviewing it, and finally criticising it for its literary merits in order to establish its rank as a poetic achievement in his country and internationally. This book is that good. I have read a number. ---ALBERT B. CASUGA, Canada
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