Alive As the Grave
By Mark Van Aken Williams
A book review by Ginger Dawn Harman
I purchased a copy of this book from a notification sent to me by Amazon that Mark Van Aken Williams had a new book for purchase. I immediately purchased a copy and a few months later I found the quiet opportunity to read this gem. I was not disappointed. Mark Van Aken Williams is a genius of understanding and analyzing language and integrates his knowledge into amazing poetry. It's essentially impossible to define his writing style because it manifests on a very high intelligent level: blindingly theatrical in one poem (Mozart’s Grave pg. 58) and subtle semblance in another (The Dreams which Mock Us pg. 75). Yet, the harmony of words, images, and tone creates a meditative-like state for this reader. I simply read and reread each poem several times gaining a philosophical interrogation of the soul.
With psychological observation and insight; unexpected language kick and spin this book of poetry which will have you looking for references to Homer, Ennius, biblical references, and “onus probandi.” Alive As the Grave is well balanced in cleverness and language as well as mood. Some of the poetry is hot, some cold. For example, in Micah’s Answer to the False Prophets, I felt the author took a rather hot topic of sin and promised judgment to evoke a perspective of formulated retaliation. However, a colder approach was used with the poem titled, With a Broken Heart where little emotion is used but more of a chastised repose of attitude is displayed.
The purchase price of this book is appropriate and I would recommend the paperback version such as I have purchased. Janice PhelpsWilliams has done a wonderful job through the book creating illustrations that enhance the poems. The cover art is thought provoking with hints of dendrite branching extensions of neurons in the title and the tree. I feel that Alive As the Grave would be most appropriate for the intellectual adult or college age student. This book of poetry would provide great academic debate and discussion.
Julius Meinl once stated, “Poetry is an intellectual emotion such as creating, day dreaming, crafting, imagining or simply just having conversations – you alone decide what poetry is for you.”
From Author's Preface in "Alive as the Grave": The poems in this volume contain a speculative philosophy based on ancestral slime, incremental change, evolutionism and revolution, tempo, continuity, corridors, and whirligigs; the veil of an indefinable wisdom, moving invisibly beyond the limen of nothingness, returning to the realm of imagination, where time no longer exists, and animation is derived from resonating, museful, substructural rhythms. ~MVW, 2014
Alive As the Grave by Mark Van Aken Williams has accomplished this and much more. I give my highest recommendation.