Outer Space, Inner Minds, David P. Reiter, editor (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd, 2020) 177 pp. https://ipoz.biz/ipstore/index.php?route=product%2Fproduct&product_id=561
Review by Lisa Timpf
Philosophical, descriptive, thought-provoking, evocative. Those are some of the adjectives that sprang to mind after reading Outer Space, Inner Minds, a collection of 80 poems edited by David P. Reiter. To augment the written content, images from NASA and from Dr. Who episodes are paired with some of the poems.
The anthology includes the works of 35 contributors. Building off the title, the collection is divided into four sections: “Outer to Outer,” “Outer to Inner,” “Inner to Outer,” and “Inner to Inner.” The latter section in particular includes a number of thought-provoking pieces, among them Richard James Allen’s “When I Have Fears that I May Cease to Be”:
. . . poetry is not just
a clandestine language we are condemned to teach each other
on death row, but a set of keys we have smuggled in
to unlock the internal stratosphere of our freedom
Although new volumes of speculative poetry often hail from North America or England, that’s not the case with Outer Space, Inner Minds. Many of the contributors are based in Australia, and references and descriptions woven into some of the poems reflect that fact.
Many of the entries have intriguing titles like “The Man in the Quantum Mask,” “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror,” and “Mummy on the Orient Express.” A number of poems tip the hat to pop culture or famous historical figures such as Dr. Who, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, and Agatha Christie. One of the more impactful poems is Mark Tredinnick’s “The Trees on Little Mountain Creek,” which contains the lines:
. . . And how the fire leaps is how
The earth pines for the sky, how long the sky
Has hungered for the ground. And all life longs
For what it’s not or can’t: a fish to breathe;
The air to swim; the wolf to pasture; trees
To take up their beds; the barn owl not to know.
And we, to forest. But this is just a way
To say: there’s a divinity we know but cannot
Touch, even when it touches us.
Several poems reference the moon, including “Supermoon,” “Full Moon in May,” and “Peregrine Moon.” In Ron Usher’s “The Dark Side,” the moon is personified, becoming The Man in the Moon:
Fairy tales and Pink Floyd
had us believe one side of the cheese
Moon is forever in darkness.
Truth is, half’s merely unseen
because the Man takes the same 28 days
to turn on his axis as he does to orbit Earth.
It’s called tidal locking by those who read poetry
through telescopes, astronomers.
Marion Wighton Packham’s “The River Calls Us” muses on the nature of time: “Water is slipping through our fingers. / And time stands still watching us in that precious moment smirking at our carefree ways.”
Peter Cartwright’s “Time” also resonates:
I dwell or rather exist
at this bone hard time
of cold dark weather
of cold dark change
this time of closure
like the last grand closure
of the Morning Glory that the frost will kill tonight
The poems are not without humor, as seen in Tony Steven Williams’ “Pluto speaks out”: “I have to say how demoralised/ I felt in 2006, when you constructed/ those rules for planetary definition . . .” In addition to speculative references, many of the poems capture the magical moments of everyday life. Turning to another poem by Tredinnick, this one titled “Cycles of the Moon”:
Evening now, the darkness just beginning
To tell, and low above the paddocks, where
The kite was up early getting the hang
Of herself again in the sallow morning light,
Going nowhere very very fast;
The contributors employ a variety of styles, including free verse, rhyming poems, haibun, and prose poetry. While some poems are more powerful than others, the collection as a whole is enjoyable. As an added bonus, Outer Space, Inner Minds provides North American readers with an introduction to some talented poets they may not have previously encountered.
Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her speculative poetry has appeared in New Myths, Liminality, Apparition Lit, Polar Borealis, and other venues. Her reviews have appeared in Star*Line, The Miramichi Review, The Future Fire, and Aethlon. You can find out more about Lisa's writing at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.
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