Oyster Boy Review 20  
  Summer 2012
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Cralan Kelder's Give Some Word

Jeffery Beam

  Give Some Word.
Cralan Kelder.
Shearsman Books, 2010.
96 pages, $15 (paperback).
ISBN: 1848611447

I have to admit I am a shameless fan of American-Dutch poet Cralan Kelder and I'm really happy English publisher Tony Frazer at Shearsman continues publishing very distinct American voices that shape-shift outside the ambition and craving of the poetry establishments. Cralan is one of these delightfully loopy, yet sincere, and pure poetic voices harking back not only to better known (to Americans) writers such as Cid Corman, Richard Brautigan, Robert Lax, Jonathan Williams, and Raymond Carver; but also English wits such as Spike Hawkins and Simon Cutts.

What a deep pleasure it is to read this distinguished and light-hearted work. But not light-hearted as in superficial or frivolous, but with the gentle laughter of the Dalai Lama. Kelder's friendly, animated poems alert us to quotidian pleasures with a generosity, and soundness—a wide-eyed surety at the rightness that befalls in the moment.

These frequently small—or smallish coalescings—localize the Universe into a single human life—letting the poet and the reader "relinquish . . . desire for control" (I quote Deepak Chopra) to "let the miraculous life you are born to lead unfold in all its unimaginable magnificence."

Kelder's sparkling good-humored narratives magnificent? Yes. They flare welcome thoughts in an off-handedly charming way, and yet their seemingly contradictory detachment reach depths equal to that of the Buddhist or Vedic non-local observer that we all have in us, of us, that sees, hears, is, of, beyond the censorious conscious mind:

Imagination distills nothing


more than you can imagine

The poems in Give Some Word traipse between San Francisco, Amsterdam, and parts of Africa. On foot, by plane, bus, bicycle, Kelder wants to "put the make" on "today," he sees the "small pockets of resistance" around lamp posts as rain pours dark on the city street, he leaves his wife in bed to creep to and write a forbidden love letter to—his desk. Kelder's poems, singly, and as a group are so (w)holy that it's difficult to get them across by excerpting part of one or even a whole one. I'll try:

Morning Glory

Not the invasive kind

morning is a restless thing,

morning the beginning,

its relative incident,

the demands of day, an airlift looming.

Rain collects on the open tilt window, I collect mornings
keep muttering under your breath

Collector of mornings, as
they move towards and past,

reach out and make a grab,

pull sense from order. Order a system of repetition,
of unfailing dawn.

Hoarse and how
about the time
we stayed up
all night shouting
at stars eventually
they backed down.

Or this one:

Autobahn Children


Have you ever walking across a highway?
oh autobahn
oh despair


Outside of Bremen:
It was cool man, i slept in an abandoned car
first we want warmth,
once warm
we want happiness,
whatever happened to just being warm?


What kind of a creature drinks gasoline,
and not just a shot or two,
but gallons and gallons,
and what kind of creatures are we,
that drive these creatures,
to all this drinking?

These are poems of verity and grace, of droll insight, of crystalline warmth and animal attentiveness. Give Some Word now sits on my wisdom shelf.

. . .