Jenn's Reviews > White Elephant

White Elephant by Phil Volatile
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's review
Apr 12, 2012

it was amazing

'unsung words are not songs, and unlit torches might as well be gone.'

To me, this volume is a wonderful, surreal landscape of incidents and observations. Theoretically, the surreal and bizarre poems shouldn't make sense, but they somehow do, and each of them trigger an emotional response in me. I guess this volume could mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people. This is a book to keep and re-read every once in a while, to see if the colours change and a different meaning suddenly jumps out at you.

There is the wit and sarcasm of 'Balancing Act', and the down-to-earthness of 'It's not so bad'. The 'Letters from Josh to Emily' sequence really draws you in, and 'Reflections' grabs you by the throat and is downright frightening. The poet carefully voices his doubts in 'Still not dancing', and uses absurdist humour in a short story like `Strawberry Tears'. The author also refers to having recovered from substance abuse here and there, but it's not in your face, and it's not the main point of this volume.

The poems that are sticking to a strict rhyming scheme are the least fluent, funnily enough. Sometimes they are trying to tell a story way too hard. But the gems in between where the author lets loose are brilliant. I have the feeling that these poems have been written within the time span of at least a few years, because there is some discrepancy in style. I am glad I downloaded this book though, and I recommend it to anyone looking for interesting poetry looking at all kinds of topics from all kinds of angles.
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