Book Review: Salt Water by Raphael d’Abdon

Raphael d’Abdon holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Literary Studies from the University of Udine (Italy), and is a lecturer at the English Studies Department of University of South Africa (Unisa). He has published articles, essays, translations, interviews, short stories and poems in volumes and journals. In 2007 he compiled, edited and translated into Italian I nostri semi/Peo tsa rona, an anthology of contemporary South African poetry published by Mangrovie (Naples, Italy). In 2013 he compiled and edited the collection Marikana: A Moment in Time, and was a featured poet at the “Poetry Africa” festival in Durban. He has read his poetry in South Africa, Nigeria, Italy and the USA, and is the author of two poetry collections, sunnyside nightwalk (Geko, 2013) and salt water (Poetree Publishing, 2016).

--Reviewed by Jaydeep Sarangi

Salt Water (Poetry)
Author: Raphael  d’Abdon
Publisher: Poetree Publicatio, Johannesburg
Year: 2016
Pages 79
ISBN  978-0-9870230-6-3

Raphael is a seasoned poet born in Udine, Italy. He lives in Tshwane. When I first met with him in Udine, Italy  I met with a good friend. His smiles embraced my deep feelings. Italy is a land of great legacy and fine arts. Raphael is a worthy member of this great continuity in art and architecture of the mind. His poetic canvas is vast and varied. He makes poetry is an echo, asking  images to dance.
“they say
the cure for everything is
salt water.”  (‘Salt Water’, 08)

Raphael’s poems are stories that reflect human experience, the turns of history:
“Moons know far too well
old jack is a very bad guy
noons in bed remind why” (  ‘jack daniel’s haiku’, p 38)

Raphael reveals  the courage  and commitment of  the poet’s daily life  and experience. In  his poems we feel breathing rise and fall in every receding moment. Time flies around poetic moments. We listen to the pitter-patter of  events tossing like  shower on window plane. We forget that we belong to different continents, cultural positions. Poets build up bridges at several levels.
When we whisk from one poem to another we listen intensely to the self-same message of loss. Past flows through the veins of  Raphael’s  poems. Every  sweet thing is imagined and revisited. Man lives with dreams, dreams for a better tomorrow. Time is  his well-known guest. He thinks of it, it arrives:
yesterday was today
today tomorrow
tomorrow the day
after tomorrow” (‘fine meditation’, 74)

The poet realises that poetry  can lead  her to explore   his inner wakefulness and deeper space of an island of his  own than any material achievement can. Poems set us free from bonds of  mundane  trivialities. Dreams rise and fall inside  Raphael’s ‘hollow chest’ The tail of the night attracts him,
“is a wrinkled sky
upon her breast(.)” (‘the tail of the night’, 59)

A poet has a sensitive heart to feel all these arrivals and departures of wishes and dreams . Every small thing in  his  casket speaks. Every jewelry  knows how  he feels. In the poem  ‘a loveless smoke’ Raphael says,
“the waves like the stars
the drizzle like my tears(.) “ (p.58)

Some of Raphael’s poems talk about trials and tensions that are an integral part of contemporary life in different cultural spaces irrespective of physical geography in different locations. He is a committed artist. His art is all-inclusive.Thought is a mental act. The smell of salt and lime spill over  his white pages. Raphael writes in simple language, language of our hearts.

Touching is experiencing!  Most of his poems are collage of ideas effortlessly streaming from lived moments of creative pulls. I enjoyed this ride with ‘new questions’ in the mind.

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