Book Review: Echoing

Echoing, by Elliot Koubis, is a collection of eight poems and prose poems inspired by the art of Aurelie Freoua. Interspersed with the words are illustrations of Freoua’s work. The aesthetics of the book are a delight, as are the emotions evoked when reading.

An introduction, written by Alfonzo Sieveking, explains the background to the writing. He describes it as sensual,

reaching for meaning in a dialogue with the unknowable […] moments of harmony with something greater than either the poet or the reader.

The collection opens with Influence, which succinctly explores the effect of tradition on man, and man on tradition. This, as in many of the poems, is done using the motif of nature. It is a powerful analogy.

The second work is an untitled prose poem describing a river experienced from underwater. The dance of light through its surface and blurring of all that is beyond offer a new perspective. The strength of the current along with the river’s confluences impact the items it carries and absorbs. There is wonder and appreciation at how all, even man, will be returned to the earth. The last line is breathtaking, heart-wrenching.

Confluence, takes the reader through woodland where the trees form a cathedral whose strength is derived from deep within the earth. There are connections between roots, soil, branches and birds – the cycle of seasons offering growth and nourishment. There is a reminder of their importance, including to man:

So too your breath is bound to the breath of these trees.

The sixth poem looks at the impossibility of knowing even people who are considered close.

Every communication begets a
miscommunication. With every
message sent, I wait to discern your face
through the clearing smoke. We have
already entwined our roots in countless
ways concealed from us. Pick up any
single thread, and we would find it
zigzagging across our flesh like valleys
upon the rock. […]

Despite our intricate maps, the mind cannot
transcribe our magnitude. Our score would be
erratic at best; your touch echoes too much upon
my skin. Trying to know you feels like describing a
mountain: all I can mange are glances, oblique; at
any point upon your height, half of you evades my
sight.”

The final work in the collection, After Liu Dan, also uses the mountain and its hidden depths to effect.

mountains also have an
inside. They too make sounds, resonate with the steps
that patter upon their surfaces, whistle the whittling
whirr of water, echoing the world outside within
them. They too seem to dream.

These poems remind the reader that man is a part of the natural world (despite his regular sabotage). More than that though is the desire to appreciate nature’s wonder, intricacies and strength. The poems are reflective, alluring and intense. Their impact should be savoured.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Ampersand. 

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