Phillip Larea has crafted a diverse and
succulent meal of poetry for us inside these pages. In Night Ferry he
adds a quiet desperation to the personified push and pull of everyday
living. Hallowe’en lends insight into the depths of the human psyche, a
deft word painting of the masks we show the world and the ones we don’t.
Larrea moves into form poetry in Scrapbook Villanelle, a wonderful write
that brings to mind Robbie Burns musings in To A Mouse: "The best-laid
schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley."
Suitcase In Hand is a successful exercise
in brevity– short and succinct yet says it all in 7 simple but powerful
lines that describe everyone’s life at some point in time. Death March
is a compact portrayal of the ineffectual meaning of life in the grand
scheme of things showing us the best results in living occur when it is
casually dealt with.
My personal favorite is The Punch Line.
Larrea’s depth of talent shines brilliantly through in this cleverly
crafted poem. It begs a second and third read, each one savoured a
little more each time.
This is an evocative and commendable
offering from Phillip Larrea and a very welcome addition to my
Poet Laureate, City of New Westminster
‘We The People’ is the second collection of
poetry from Phillip Larrea. In his foreword he asks us to consider the
‘quietly desperate’ and acknowledge that ‘They are us.’ This though is
not a collection of political but more a collection of deeply
humanitarian poems that name the freedoms denied, the genesis of
corruption at the heart of the American Dream and the consequences for a
people caught within this modern day Kafkaesque trial. The first poem
‘Arrested’ stops us in our tracks with iambic meter punching out the
insanities inherent in the recent ‘Aaron Swartz’ case and is echo’s in
earlier cases of the Government bypassing the people in order to Govern
itself apart. He uses Haiku’s, Tricubes ( an invention all his own ) and
sonnets to unleash his own particular brand of cutting insight leavened
with a wry humour and profound sensibility that through the course of
his collection allows one to begin to see the implications of a society
drowning in enforced and inhumane uniformities.
In the midst, the poet finds amongst the
business of life ‘a parking lot / descending to serenity.’ Other times
he captures moments that stand still like Hopper’s paintings , ‘Door
stands halfway open / Day tips, hangs / In the balance.’ Moments that
echo the tragedy of American history, ‘Knights, castle / Queen lost.
King / Checkmated.’ We hear the voices of hipsters, of beats, of Zen
masters, of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. We come to hear the
voice amongst the multitude of sins visited upon this strange and
wonderful land. We hear of his Irishness, ‘Tempting as hemlock / To a
starving soul.’ He reminds us of thinkers who may have lit better ways.
‘In Locke’s box / Not worth much, /But sturdy.’
In the end it is the art of his work that
illuminates everything else. His sure sense of meter and rhyme, his
careful shephering of his words through so many voices. In the end he
invokes TS Eliot and offers his own declaration : ‘T.S. Eliot begins and
ends. / Here, like a struck match, he begins again.’
To get a sense of America today, this
indeed would be a fine starting point.
"Phillip Larrea encourages thought in his
readers and excellence in his friends. This is his most pernicious
fault. From his Frost inspired and Zen-like tricubes, to his darkly
humorous Letter from Thomas Jefferson, Phillip Larrea gives poetic
variety a facelift. For my money, any poet who can use the word
ekphrastic (What She Saw There) must be either incredibly erudite or
crazy. Phillip Larrea may be both."
Phillip Larrea walks the literary waters.
On top. (Not like that "Weekend at Bernie’s" character.)
Phillip Larrea is the man to turn a poem
into an artful lesson about the world: the world of revolutions, the
world of torched economies, the world of the past becoming the present.
He is the how-we-got-in-this-mess poet. Phillip turns an artful phrase,
manipulates an allegory, and somehow begets the fluttery butterfly in
China that becomes the hurricane in your backyard. Not a bad trick for a
He is also the writer to make you laugh,
and as you do laugh, you puzzle for the moment with, "wait a
minute...did he mean what I think he means there?"
You buy the words on the page, but you get
the twinkle in his eyes.