Four Questions with James Diaz @diaz_james

Poetic Insights

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James Diaz

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Q: Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

A: There’s a wonderful scene in the film Wonder Boys where Rip Torn stands at the podium to address a university crowd full of literature students and the first words that he says are “I am a writer,” in a professorial, masterful way, to which Tobey Maguire’s character (incidentally named James) roars out in laughter. I kinda feel that way. It’s a little silly to say “I am a writer,” in a overly assured manner. I’m a broken thing who somehow finds that words are a miraculous binding agent, linguistic glue for my soul. I grew up in a violent, drug and abuse ridden home. I remember when I was 13 finding a Rolling Stone magazine in which these prisoners who were serving life sentences had turned to poetry as a way to cope with their impossible…

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Review: Rosary of Ghosts, Grant Tarbard

Grant Tarbard transports us to a dystopian world with his broken memories of a stroke, written in stunning poetry. If you buy any poetry this year, I thoroughly recommend that this is at the top your list.
The first poem, “Man Like You” will pull at your heart as he addresses a surgeon. ‘Torn head, all is Straw,/ a thunder machine/ bellows in my heart’. The pain of feeling being less than, pitied, is tangible.
This collection conveys Tarbard’s complete confusion and loss of physical wholeness using metaphor and imagery. You don’t need to understand his exact meaning to feel the power of his words. The picture is there in your mind, skilfully painted by the poet’s stunning use of words.
“Triptych” tells you about his three deaths without saying if they are literal.  ‘I press my cheek to my deaths, a slow dance… …The pain from old wounds/ache like wedding white.’ Never before have I read such poignant wording, completely without self-pity or self-consciousness, as in this pamphlet. In “Shallow Of The Room’’ , we are told …I have breathed as the dead breathe.

In “Lie Upon My Bed While I Die” …We are a den of Fagin’s thieves ‘stealing/ each little breathe that rises on our chests’ These images seem tangible, we are with Grant Tarbard in his extremity. He does not shy away from showing us. The title poem is quite cryptic, leaving us to ponder, but not escape.
Not a word is wasted in these poems. They beautifully depict the ugliness and despair we can feel about our bodies when they fail us, when we are stuck with needles and tubes. The smile of medical staff lends little, if any, comfort. It is as if Grant Tarbard viewed his body as alien to him. There are those of us who can relate. But sentimentality is there none.
Indigo Dreams Publishing ISBN978-1-910834-47-3