Chanties: An American Dream
by Eric Weiskott
Bottlecap Press $10
I’ll admit it’s a stretch for me to review a book of poetry for Ocean Navigator. I am usually found writing the celestial navigation problems appearing at the back of the magazine. But when this small book (technically this type of book is called a chapbook, derived from the word chapman, the name given to itinerant dealers, who sold such books) of poems appeared in the mail, I wanted to share it with my fellow mariners.
Chanties: An American Dream is a collection that I would recommend for an afternoon lie-down at home in front of a wood stove or in a snug berth aboard a well-found ship in safe anchor.
This chapbook — only five inches by seven and a half inches — has between its covers 21 poems composed by Eric Weiskott, a 36-year- old professor at Boston College whose specialty is poetry and poetic meter. Dr. Weiskott teaches courses in Chaucer, Medieval English, and George R.R. Martin’s book series Game of Thrones. He also grew up in a small maritime community on eastern Long Island and is well versed in songs of the sea and the maritime imprint on our lives through literature. An odd combination that: Chaucer and Whitman, the Poets Corner at Westminster and Melville, Queequeg and the shipyard down the block. His academic credentials don’t get in the way of his clear observational style. His poems are written in free verse, yet the simplicity of the form belies the depth of the observations and the sly humor, for instance, in the poem “Landfall.”
In the dream you type and type until the other coast materializes.
Out the porthole, fog and foghorn have reached a truce. What was
once deleted can never be deleted again. Stroke, stroke, stroke.
Gaze at the horizon if the nineteenth century makes you dizzy.
Turn to crimson for the end of the day. Grab a pail and get to
work on abstract expressionism. Are you always this insuﬀerable?
In dreams you don’t have to answer that. n