Poetry review: Sam Rasnake’s ‘Cinéma Vérité’

CV  FrontI had the opportunity to write a review of Sam Rasnake’s new poetry collection late last year, and it has just recently appeared at PANK blog. I admit to being intimidated at first, but when I dove in, I found myself so immersed in the poems and the films of these pages — I soon forgot about myself. The collection has such breadth and also depth, it was easy to get lost in the poetry itself, for all the right reasons. At the same time, I welcomed the challenge inherent in a study of this sort: reading closely, cross referencing, finding themes and following them to see how they push the collection forward or bring the reader back to the beginning.

Sam Rasnake’s Cinéma Vérité is not merely a collection of poems in a book; it’s a study of film and words on the page. Below I paste the opening of my review, but please visit the site here to read it in full.

Cinéma Vérité REVIEW, February 2014, Michelle Elvy

1. The beginning, middle, and end

When you dive into Sam Rasnake’s poetry, you give yourself over to words and worlds you’ve not touched before. I’ve read plenty of Rasnake’s words before, from online journals to his last collection, Inside a Broken Clock. He challenges and inspires, both intellectually and emotionally. And now, with his latest offering, Cinéma Vérité, I find myself caught up in his heady love affair with poetry and film, image and truth, space and silence, fragments and wholes.

I’m not a film buff like Rasnake, I admit. But the way he combines observations from and about films with observations of life, love, art, and death has me rethinking Welles, Malick, Kubrick, Godard, and Campion (and many more, from Wim Wenders to Spike Lee). He fits language and image together in a close examination of a wide selection of modern films. Here we have film reconsidered through a poet’s eye, connecting the specific to the universal.

In keeping with the collection’s title, Rasnake examines not merely films themselves but the truths they may reveal (which may turn out to be lies)… more here.

~

Hoopla launchAs an interesting end note here, I hope to read Helen Rickerby’s Cinema in the coming weeks. This new collection will be launched next week in Wellington, NZ, as part of the HOOPLA series by Makaro Press. These two poets live on opposite sides of the globe, but I am looking forward to seeing how they both find connections between poetry and film.

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