The Ghost Soldiers

The Ghost Soldiers

by James Tate
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Ghost Soldiers 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brush More than 1 year ago
Poetry is always supposed to sound better in verbal form; hidden meaning is captured when the words are spoken, certain pairings of sounds link together to form beautiful patterns. However, poetry rarely comes in the form of a conversation. That is precisely why James Tate's The Ghost Soldiers is full of rarity; his newest collection of poems enhances and brings his unique skill of simple yet complex writing to the forefront. Each poem infuses Tate's conversational way of writing and gracefully demands the attention of the reader. Interaction between speaker and reader is key, and in The Ghost Soldiers all the witticisms, humor, confusion, ambiguity, uniqueness, and creativity of Tate's style of writing is showcased often. Taking average situations and infusing them with a whimsical sense of sarcasm or humor is the forte of this poetry. Viewing events through the eyeglass of Tate's writing truly captures an absurd, intelligent, and altogether creative take on life. From the moment one opens the collection of poems and glances at the first piece, it is obvious to discover they differ from average poetry. All poetry tries to sound audible, as if the reader is speaking these words to the reader. However, James Tate tackles what it means to make a poem "conversational," adding dialogue that acts like fiction yet harnesses the ability to read like poetry. In Tate's poem "Desperate Talk," he infuses this conversational style of writing through his characters. Although rather choppy at times, it begins to read like rhythmic beats, echoing the words "I said" one after another. This type of quick conversation dialogue is not only showcased in this poem but also in poems like "Duct-Tape Celebration" and "The Scarab." In addition to various manipulations of dialogue, James Tate concocts the most abstract settings for his characters to reside in, often causing the most absurd actions to take place. His simple language pulls the reader into his created locales, then pleasantly torments them with a sense of absurdity. In his poem "A Boy And His Cow," Tate offers a whimsical portrayal of a normal situation. It is remarkable how attractive the poetry is to the eye, and how lost one can get in the flow of the words. In this poem the speaker continues to toss in various randomness within the situation, including doctor visits for human leakage and good-fortune beetles, then concludes with an almost normal ending. What seems so simplistic and normal turns out to be full of vitality. That is what makes Tate's poems so incredible; it feels like each poem is its own storybook waiting to be explored. The characters are often full of confusion and wonder, leaving the reader to also join them in that sense. In "The Nether World," Tate focuses on the nether world being physical travels, but also a longing state of mind. James Tate craftily wields his pen as he writes down the most absurd poems, simplistic yet complex language, and symbolic references; in each poem lives a vivid imagination bursting with underlying emotion and meaning. Each poem in his newest collection The Ghost Soldiers is smartly mastered to be a representation of all that Tate wants to offer: comments on society, humorous sarcasm, and a witty playfulness that will surely ignite the reader's interest. Getting immersed in poetry is never too hard, but fully participating in it is rare; The Ghost Soldiers by James Tate offers the opportunity to do just that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thousands of people who may never think to open a book of poetry would have their worlds turned upside down if they were handed this book. Tate's newest poems follow in the form of his last few books, short first-person vignettes, often back and forth conversations, in a space with its own existential eco-systems...perhaps a small town with infinite mirrors, dimensions, and reality portals. Each story resonates with emotional, and even political implications, but is never preachy or plagued by the sense of obligatory profundity of some poetry. In fact, the poems are unnervingly direct, with characters first and last names used as if sliced from a novel, or news report but then unfurling in dreamlike and dystopian dramas. The stranger the evening news becomes, the more spot-on Jim Tate's reporting seems to be. He, like the characters in many of the poems, remains based in reality, or desperately clinging to it as the world comes unglued. It is this almost frank strangeness, dealt with in matter-of-fact language, and laugh-or cry-or scream-out-loud material that I think is Tate's 'voice,' his method. Though not formulaic, each poem seems part of a puzzle piece that will almost but never quite fit together with all the others. These poems are often very funny and delightful read aloud, even to children, or at a bar as I've found, where I've sent many a citizen into the night with James Tate scrawled on a bar napkin.