"Bone Silence", by Peycho Kanev, is a constant reminder to us all that poetry usurps reality. Kanev takes readers in many directions, constantly retur"Bone Silence", by Peycho Kanev, is a constant reminder to us all that poetry usurps reality. Kanev takes readers in many directions, constantly returning the reader to the familiar. The various themes and symbolic repetitions of the works create a narrative larger than the individual pieces. Kanev draws us into his worlds, leaving us there to experience the familiarity of his voice, which seems to become our own. "Bone Silence" belongs in any serious collection of modern poetry today.
Glenn Lyvers Poetry Quarterly
Peycho Kanev’s newest book of poetry called Bone Silence was captivating from the very start. He employs many different poetic devices and forms. This book is filled with many thought provoking, dark and gritty sentiments. The narrative dialogue is blunt and unyielding. This is not a light hearted read of romanticized ear tickling, rather, it is cold realism. Bone Silence came across as a book of self review. A place in life at which youth and death walk tightropes across the conscious mind and collapses into ink and paper which carry the scent of cheap wine and cigarettes. The surreal and mind commandeering thoughts and imagery will leave you blinking the rose tint from your eyes. Bone Silence is a vital read to all who want to enjoy some cloudy sky poetry.
Tannen Dell and Michael Whitaker, Editors of Indigo Rising
Peycho Kanev’s poetry collection, Bone Silence, evokes a theme repeating throughout: Our bones outlast us and remain our only testament in the world, even the greatest of us. Over time we are forgotten, our words are lost, and in the soil a story bones can’t tell. The writer pushes against death, strives for immortality in a temporal and zero-sum world or, as the author puts it: “as the tomb rock rolls among/the skulls of the geniuses of the past.”
Kanev opens the writer’s tale by yearning for the Word and illustrating the hard life that comes with seeking it. Automatically, this is a spiritual journey: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). This “mad God whirls” out of reach, and worse, He refuses to do anything about it.
Keeping with that spiritual tone, this work mirrors also King Solomon’s existential crisis in Ecclesiastes while at the same time proving, as Solomon said, there’s nothing new under the sun. There’s nothing new in this collection either, but that’s a despair granted always in art; the poet’s job is to update old metaphors for new souls. Bone Silence shrinks back, though, from the beautiful magic sprouting from the dung heap of Solomon’s pain: the admonishment to eat, drink, and be merry—for true, tomorrow we are wordless bones—and, perhaps more importantly, to climb out of this abyss eaten up with love. But there is no Song of Songs here to balance—to save!—the reader/writer from omnipotent nothingness or lessons to be learned from the mad glory of pain.
No, more likely that tale of salvation would be regarded as the cruelest of kitsch. And making an enemy of kitsch—those elusive and dreamy bright ideas with dangerous potential for brokenhearted emptiness—is a grand Eastern European tradition born of a long line of anti-Bohemian Bohemians. Kanev hurls the reader into the ethereal moment just before the Fall—the moment of realization that in less than an imaginary second gravity and vertigo will seize you, and your stomach will be in your throat. Kundera called it an unbearable lightness.
I’m hesitant to juxtapose writers with the immortal, and already I’ve slapped Kanev up against Solomon and Kundera. Others have paired him with Keats, Nabokov, and Joyce. To do so is not completely justifiable, for this work—important as it is to be considered—does not come as close to flawlessness as the others listed. Reading Bone Silence in one sitting proves fatiguing solely for the droning repetition of theme.
The Poetic Character—for we do not want to confuse the narrator with the poet—spends most of his time holed up in the extreme solitude of his bedroom, which is often peppered with naked and sleeping women for whom the narrator seems to have an underlying contempt; the way Kundera pairs sex with excrement, Kanev pairs sex with death. The Poetic Character is obsessed with the clock that is “slicing [him] slowly,” and if not pining about the illusion of time, he gazes out the window and mocks those daring to participate in the world. The rest of the time he drinks. And smokes. And obsesses over death and nothingness.
Cliché as it is—the soulful, misunderstood poet waxing misanthropic about the world—it’s fine for a hundred pages. But Bone Silence is 152 pages. It’s equivalent to drowning in the Hell of Sophie’s Choice. That is, of course, a compliment and criticism smashed together. Stopping at page 100, though, doesn’t get us to the best lines of the collection, which come on page 136 in the deceptively generic title, “Some Poetry”:
“This girl hikes up her skirt;
and now I can see where all the suffering has begun,
through the time and through the great music and through the paintings
of the masters we were fixed within the lie of the Art…”
And with that, he sums up the whole collection, but goes on for 15 pages more.
There are glimmers of hope. At one point our spiritually tortured Poetic Character, after noting the “horror” of a woman’s unbuttoned skirt, reaches to kill desire and finds love “dripping between [his] fingers.” This doesn’t last, naturally, but the misogyny does, and he notes that “The Girls of Today” “live in hollow state of mind.” He then ponders: “but imagine just for a moment that all of the/chocolates factories of the world stop production.”
The Poetic Character’s voice is authentic, so authentic you can hear his Eastern European accent, slip around on forgivable and brave failings of English subject-verb agreement. It makes one wonder if there were heated arguments between writer and editor over the “holly” man at the Vatican, if the imperfection was purposeful or masterfully accidental. And soon, if one is philosophically bent, one begins to wonder the same about the universe itself.
Enigmatic is the Word here, so much brightness pitched against a backdrop of omnipresent darkness. My daughter, as I raised her out of her crib one morning, asked me, “Where the dark go?” She’s too little to understand the dark is always there—it’s the light that goes away. Kanev, perhaps, could explain that to her best.
This title immediately draws me in, sparks the question, "r" what? The first poem takes my spark with an imperative, "find me one small torch". By theThis title immediately draws me in, sparks the question, "r" what? The first poem takes my spark with an imperative, "find me one small torch". By these words I am immediately engaged and happy to embark upon this ride, this adventure. I take in view after view, second glance is mindful hunger, this writer can quench thirst. Third, he raises the dead; fourth he reveals Monet and pours out pain. I am liking this poet. By now it is clear, he is a poet and I an enraptured reader. He takes black pearls from the Angels and rolls them right out on the pages of this book. He says so, then six more views followed by a graphic; two. In one, the poet toasts me; he takes his drink, I take mine. The other, a frozen leaf, recalls images already read. Wow! I am really liking this book. Then, the eigth poem turns me on my ear. It is ekphrastic. I know, what the hell? "Ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art" says Webster. The piece had a title and a reference to the painting which inspired it. The language is crisp, the images illusive, the references esoteric. I am challenged. I think I like it, but what? Two, three more and I am spinning. This word wrangled vocab challenge is too clever for me. This poet is schizoid. How can he do this? Start tugging right at my viscera, then abruptly freeze them for detached examination? Now I think I should look at this whole book. Who is the poet? No names in the early pages, no table of contents or preface or forward. No publisher's page. Hmmmmm. So, I turn to the back and there it is, a table of contents. I'll be damned. No wonder my consternation. This book contains work by two poets. (Editor's Note: My initial read of this book was from a PDF copy, emailed to us by Mr. Kanev. The cover page has an image of Mr. Kanev on the left of the letter "r", small case, with a photo of a grate [in a wall, on a ceiling?] to the right, centered on a white background, but no names. I later ordered the book [from Amazon - check it out]. The hard copy has a wonderful, gloss finish with the addition of four names, one to each corner of the page. So, I would have known there were four individuals involved with this book, had I read the hard copy first. However, I still have no insight to the mystery of the book's title. Why "r"?) One is the poet Peycho Kanev. This is the guy who grabbed me by the gonads on the first page. Made me see emotion as raw organs. He showed me for the old dead dog that I am and got me barking for more. The other author is Felino Soriano. This is the word master, ekphrastic wizard. He is challenging and bracing. He is certainly worthy of future consideration. Both of these poets are edited by Edward Wells II, who is also responsible for the layout. This publishing editor (editing publisher?) chose these two poets and threw them together in this one book, without warning. The layout is clever, I guess. I am distracted by some placements of poem titles at the bottom of one page followed by the bodies of the poems at the top of the next, not always facing, page. Well, I get caught on words, not layout. And caught I was, through the first twelve pages I was enthralled and in awe. Then Soriano, then shifting formats. My questions about the book title "r" never are answered. I'm thinking it's an inside joke. The book is a visual work of art, maybe. If I look at it as form and color, I can see it as such. Maybe that is Mr. Wells' intent. He is too clever for me. I am sorry for Mr. Soriano. He deserves to be read on his own. He is mis-matched with Mr. Kanev. Mr. Kanev is mis-matched with him. Not fair to either poet, I'm thinking. But, I want to talk about Mr. Kanev. Peycho Kanev. And this is the problem. I have to use poor words to describe rich ones. So, I resort to the highest form of flattery. I plagiarize. I use Kanev's words to describe Kanev's words. I read Kanev and am exposed as the old dog that I am. He is the one who can paint pictures. I read more and gain a sense of foreboding. He makes us chuckle with some clever phrases, but soon I see he is a commentator; showing us something. He says that poetry is nothing to fuck with. By this he is getting down to it, taking us with him. A Kanev read is no day trip, no stop on the literary tour. Reading Kanev is a challenge. He is challenging us to see the whole of life. His words are sweet and harsh. His mood is despondent but detached. He must hold his words at arms length lest they strangle him. This is not a feast to be gobbled, but a communion to be savored with quiet introspection. Kanev's communion is for the faithful only. It is the body and blood of his whole life poured out on these pages. No half life, no whispered life is legitimized. Don't venture lightly into his words. They are a test. Kanev rails at those who keep the poetry dead while he laughs at himself for screaming in his mirror for recognition. Then he divulges his purpose with the only words in the only sequence that makes any soul sense at all, while stating all the sense of his soul: "I will stick my hand in my chest and take out my alive and throbbing heart then I will plunge it into you" I suggest you read this poet. I suggest you be seated when you do. Better yet, you should kneel. Kanev is a spritual read.