New books offer eclectic mix of poetry, prose

By Tyler Tichelaar

If the walls could talk

By t. kilgore splake

This book is a tribute to the former St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hancock. It’s a thin volume of not more than 40 pages with a short essay in the beginning describing how the author in 1983 first discovered the hospital, peered through its windows into its abandoned ruins, and realized it would make an interesting photography project. The succeeding pages are filled with photos of the abandoned hospital in disrepair. There is also a short history of the hospital. Because the hospital has since been razed, splake decided it was time to publish his photographs. From leg braces and crucifixes to rubble, these images offer an eye-opening perspective on what life may have been like inside St. Joseph’s walls.

Last Dance

By t. kilgore splake

This new volume of splake’s poetry begins with a short poem that reads: graybeard rule/period never used/until death of poem”—ironically, there is no period at the end. Splake previously published a book titled graybeard memories, so he is obviously making his own rules, and lack of punctuation and capitalization are among them, as is apparent in all his poetry collections.

Several of the poems in this book reference films. In one, the DVD player freezes and we have the image of a priest holding scissors. In another, depression is lifted by watching Marx brother films. Other poems discuss sports, aging, the seasons and life’s disappointments.

But poetry is really at the center of most of the poems. splake is always self-aware of his craft—and its ironies. One of my favorite poems was “apologies too late” in which two poets marry each other and end up criticizing each other’s work.

Other poems have a bite to them—one titled “communion” compares a dry communion host to a sexual act. Yet others are quite…

To read the full story, please pick up a copy of this months Marquette Monthly at one of our distribution outlets.

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