Today dear reader I am reviewing The Sound Of The Earth Singing To Herself (9th October 2020) By Ricky Ray. Happy Publication Day! A big thank you to the publishers Fly On The Wall Press for my copy to review, always appreciated.
The Sound Of The Earth Singing To Herself
In The Sound Of The Earth Singing To Herself, Ricky Ray invokes the animalistic yet the utterly, undeniably humane. Visiting the most intimate corners of memory, this is a chapbook that promises linguistic prowess and the healing – however raw – of the ache of living. From Indiana, Florida, and Oklahoma to the inescapable moment of our own death, the moment the sun sinks below the horizon, the moment ‘the cancer / bloomed like an angry / flower in her liver’, Ray’s language is masterful, transfixed on elevating the mundane and exposing every private moment of our existence.
About The Author
Ricky Ray is a disabled poet, critic, essayist and the founding editor of Rascal: A Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art. He is the author of the full-length collection, Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), and two chapbooks: Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, and a Liam Rector fellowship. His work appears widely in periodicals and anthologies, including The American Scholar, Verse Daily, Diode Poetry Journal and The Moth. He was educated at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, and lives on the outskirts of the Hudson Valley, where he can be found hobbling in the old green hills with his old brown dog, Addie.
In this powerful eco poetry collection Ray captures the rawness of a life in poverty. He feeds the mind with the reality of hand-me-downs and baths with the neighbour’s hose. You begin to appreciate what you have in life as you read how electricity was an indulgence and mac and cheese was the only choice on the menu. It makes you realise how basic necessities such as a hot bath or shower are a luxury to others. We are all guilty of becoming too accustomed to the comforts of easy living that we don’t realise how lucky we are. Ray subtly brings this much needed awareness to his poems. You begin to take steps back and see the bigger picture. Too often in life we focus on what we don’t have. This collection reveals that you are much richer than you think. It’s a real eyeopener. Ray’s softly lyrical words stay with you long after you have finished reading. It’s a phenomenal work of art that moves and grows on you.
Ray has a strong, natural connection with dogs that is lovingly weaved throughout his poetry. In The End of My Brother he speaks of his dog Rascal and how his death left a paw print sized hole in his heart. Ray called him his brother, his guardian and teacher. There were times when I wondered if Ray himself had transformed into a dog. He speaks of how they would drool over dog biscuits as they were the only food in the house. It sticks in your throat as you can physically feel the dryness of the biscuits making their way down to your grumbling stomach. I couldn’t get enough and found myself drooling for more delicious treats. The air was thick with the scent of a dog’s life, the freedom to roam, the loyalty and love for man’s best friend. It’s mesmerising to read as Ray captures emotion and the rough texture of the world beautifully in his poems.
I enjoyed Lamb’s Lung: Addie’s Favorite Treat and exploring how desire can lead us astray. Ray shows the reader how we always want more and it never seems to be enough. He shows how this treat was once a happy healthy lamb, very much alive eating grass but is now being devoured by Addie’s jaws. It’s striking imagery that intrigues you to dive deeper into it’s meaning and the nature of life. You wish to learn and better understand the world we live in as you continue to read Ray’s gentle warm tones, lighting your way on your path of discovery.
This collection connects effortlessly with nature, showing the reader how we should take a moment to thank the trees, the earth and admire the world we live in. In So Long as There Is Light, There Is Song I could hear Earth’s duet with the sun and it was utter bliss dear reader. Ray has a remarkable way of showing the reader how alive the world can be. How we should appreciate what we have and take a minute to slow down and breathe in the life that is happening around us. We are such a noisy, loud species. If we just all shut up for one minute, we too might hear the sound of the earth singing to herself. It’s therapeutic to read and healing as you begin to witness and better understand the damage we have all done to our home.
Ray features some intriguing themes of disability and the struggles one faces on a daily basis. In Toward What he presents the reader with the slow, agonising truth of the patience it takes to ascend six stairs and calls it a triumphant day. Again Ray stresses how something so small and minor to most of us is a challenge for others. You can’t help but feel guilty at how much in life you take for granted. It’s refreshing and eye opening to see how we don’t fully appreciate what we have ’til it’s fully gone which ties in with the theme of taking care of the planet. We destroy and pollute its land when we should be looking after it, giving thanks for its nutrition. It’s thought provoking and allows you to take responsibility for past mistakes. All in all reader it’s poetry at it’s finest.
I give The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself By Ricky Ray a Five out of Five paw rating.
Bursting with imagery and life this collection will stay with you long after you finish reading. Ray has a talent with words and creates the most remarkable images, filling your imagination with sound, taste and smell. It is truly a wonderful experience dear reader that I highly recommend you all immerse yourself in. I was sad at how short a read this was but eagerly await Ray’s future works. I am certain it will be worth the wait.
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