Poems of separation and the sea


What: John Reid reads from Mid-Atlantic

When: 7 pm Sat., Aug. 26

Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Cost: Free

Info: http://www.villagebooks.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I wrote of John James Reid in the spring—of the love kindled that brought him, the love shared that sustained him, the love lost that may drive him from our shores and the love rekindled that may coax him to return: He met a woman in Ireland who called Bellingham home. He fell in love with her, and with her home. And in that place of happiness and dream, the architect drew a vision for the waterfront, generous of park and open space, and sought to create for that vision passion and commitment. He brought to his associates in Ireland that vision of that waterfront in the hopes they’d finance and construct the dream.

Reid is an architect—and as they are of that trade, he is part draftsman, part artist, part persuader and all poet. He has yet to present that vision in an open forum, and it has yet to be adopted as an official plan. But in the meantime, he continues to dream, to write, to create.

“You turn in on yourself,” Reid speaks of the craft of poetry to the Independent Writers Studio. “The opening of an awareness of language, the resonance and power of words, the simple pleasure of reading, the open invitation to be creative, its pulling power. Writing changes you in the quest for meaningful language to search out thoughts and feelings and dreams. You find more of yourself.”

In his third chapbook of poems, Mid-Atlantic, Reid sketches the emotional journey from Ireland to the United States, addressing themes of disconnection with metaphors of the sea. In the end, his journey is redeemed by the soft light of Bellingham Bay. Previous books include After Six Weeks and The Goalkeeper, the latter dedicated to his Irish mother and her roughhousing football family of 10.

How do we deal with separation, Mary Gillilan asks in an interview with Reid. How did we get here? And where do we go from here—when the here is a place caught between continents on a sea with no land in sight. He writes:

I will break through this hard shell
and hatch into a new space,
where I can reach out again
for love’s soft embrace
and its warm surface again.

“I am thinking about an idea about spaces; maybe, because I am an architect,” Reid reflects. “An idea about describing architectural spaces and other spaces. The spaces that touch us and make our lives different. The empty spaces. The surprising space that can burst us alive. I leave it to the unconscious to crystallize it further.
“The different spaces we all move through, conscious and unconscious.”

Proceeds of all sales of the book will be donated to the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center.

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