(Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC, New London, Ct. www. littleredtree.com)
I don't read poetry collections quickly. I may blast my way through John Sanford's latest thriller, but it takes
me weeks or months to read a poet's book to completion. This is the first time I've read with the promise of a
review in mind, but I had to put that pledge on the way-back burner before I could settle down and enjoy Mr.Lantry's lovely collection. I'm not a poetry critic; I'm a poetry enthusiast. However, here it goes: This beautifully realized book includes a foreward by Jean-Yves Solinga, a prologue and chapter introductions by Mr. Lantry, over a hundred poems and Pre-Raphealite paintings, printed in black and white, as a frontispiece for each chapter. There is a glossary (I can never keep my gods, goddesses and their stories straight and so I appreciated the helpful reminders about them, the carpentry terms, the translations at the ready, and the obscure references explained in straightforward language. I do, however, know what
quotidian means) an index, and Mr. Lantry's stunning biography. The poems are uniform in structure: four
stanzas of six lines each, with ten skillful beats per line. This author takes exquisite care with his work, and
there is much in this volume for each of us to enjoy.
The love poems take us on a gentle, sensuous journey through a land of silk and pearls, lace and candlelight, song and mystery. Mr. Lantry's word choices hark back to pre-Beat literary times; his language is unabashadly civilized. When reading many of these poems I shared with the author a rarified world accompanied by classical or liturgical music, lit softly, peopled by intelligent, graceful beings who resolve conflicts and behave well (except for an impulsive four-year-old, who I think must be a charming boy.)
I like best the poems ("Hinges," "Stone Cutters," "Disorder") in which the author leaves interior rooms and writes about struggles to tame nature for his gardens, walks along riverbanks or through forests, and time spent in his workshop where he fashions wood and teaches his son. I like his storms and his words about aftermaths of storms, natural or human. There is grit, hard work, and striving in this volume, along with the good wine, the fine fabrics.
The line that took my breath away, "I wanted to write paradise," begins his poem "The Dark Wood." I love that. I think this poet did and does want to write paradise. I believe him and I empathize with the difficulty he faces, we all face, when we want to help with our words and can only, at best, come close. The poem continues "…I would/create with words, a space where each may dwell who comes to read./A quiet song, small words almost as calming as the wind,light birds/their feathers shadow-flashing, or the swell/breaking into a wave across the sand."
I will keep this collection near me for awhile. I'll reread favorites, wander worlds with Mr. Lantry, and try not to envy his wife, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who has had such poetry dedicated to her.