Fludde, Peter Mishler
Review By Blaine Heydt
The forward to Peter Mishler’s collection Fludde begins “Occasionally, poetry provides us with raw proof of what it is to be alive, perceptions that never stray far from sensations, an illumination of sparks as opposed to, or at least in addition to, the steady artificial light of reason” (ix). This collection incorporates visual, concrete imagery that bends the mind to compare, or at least consider, seemingly displaced objects. Mishler keeps the reader ensnared in their body, experiencing the work – breathing it – engaging in a visceral, as opposed to cerebral, process. “My love with her tongue / at the tip of the truncheon. / Me with my tongue / asleep at her hipbone. “ (1-2).
Fludde brings the reader to re-envisioned fairytales, set in the present day. These fairytales intertwine with folklore, religious symbolism, as well as surrealist dream or ghostlike imagery and tone. Mishler incorporates tone masterfully in his imagistic writing. He is able to do incredible things with language as he creates beautifully lyrical, pieces, set up with a musical tone and rhythm only to break it abruptly. In this way Mishler integrates the harsh cacophony of the real world with the singsong whimsicality of the imagination. “The waste blows loose / into the harbor, / and it carries snow / onto the sea: / luminaries / for a silver age, / preemptive peace. / And snow falls / onto the face of a child / who stands beside / about to open his mouth. / Out comes the rattle / of silverware / washed in a sink: / music you heard” (65-66).
This collection allows daylight to cast holes in the disjointed imaginings of our sleeping minds, grounding the dreamlike, fairytale-esque, imagery of the poems literally with pieces of our physical world – trees, rivers, overpasses. As the collection progresses, poems like “Demolition” bridge the gap between the waking and sleeping world with a day dream, and the instilment of agency in the speaker. The work also begins to feel more narrative in style, as if the dream language has instilled in the reader an aptitude for the visceral experience before layering that with a more linear one – still with dream like qualities. Fludde is an experience, raw and honest.