Blog Book Tour | “ergon” by George HS Singer #poetry collection

Posted Wednesday, 12 October, 2016 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to review “ergon” by Poetic Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “ergon” direct from the author George HS Singer in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Blog Book Tour | “ergon” by George HS Singer #poetry collectionergon
by George HS Singer
Source: Publisher via Poetic Book Tours

George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.

George HS Singer, a former Buddhist monk, has written a debut collection of poems about his life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life when he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

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ISBN: 9781625491923

Genres: Poetry & Drama


Published by Wordtech Editions

on 18th June, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 88

Published By: WordTech Editions an imprint of WordTech Communications

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #Poetry

About George HS Singer

George HS Singer

George HS Singer, a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H. He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life. Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

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Initially, I wasn’t sure if this one was a good fit for me, however, I do love Buddhist texts as I’m a scholar of World Religions, which made me think it might be a good one to read. I just felt on the fence about it. I love alternative routes to parenthood inasmuch as personal growth & exploration of the soul’s journey towards living an authentic life.

I had trouble sorting out the kind of collection this poetry might be considered – or from which angle I could retreat inside it from the first time I’d heard about the blog tour. What I thought was quite kind of Ms Cox at Poetic Book Tours was to converse with me a bit about the collection and help me pin down the kind of collection this would yield to read. Sometimes I find it hard to tell something ‘ahead’ of reading a story, anthology of short stories or collection of poetry – you are only given a small teaser of what ‘could be found’ rather than what might be contained within it’s bindings – therefore, sometimes it’s lovely to take a pause and talk about what a particular publication is about rather than diving straight in without understanding it from a wider lens of view. Thus, I am sharing what my second impression was and why I was motivated to read this collection afterall.

In the first poem under the heading ‘Visiting’ we arrive inside “Slipping Out” which plays on the metaphoric experience of ‘slipping inside someone elses shoes’ for a short bit before re-emerging into our own lifeforce once again. It’s a play on theories about how we draw out empathy for each other and how sometimes, the mind can be a vortex of exploring metaphysical and esoteric ideas that bring a levelling of understanding to those who would like to project a harder look at how our actions and reactions affect those closest to us. There is also a hint of the ‘greater purpose’ behind our lives and the way in which our mannerisms have cause and effect responses to others around us. Moreso, I felt it was a re-invention of a pop song whose lyrics attempt to ask a poignant question of if you would recognise God if He was living amongst man in contemporary times. The song in question is “One of Us” by Joan Osborne and I found the parallels between the song of my teens and this new poem of now to be quite compellingly insightful – both speak towards the heart of truth about what observation and understanding truly mean in our individual lives whilst asking to paint a response towards seeking something further beyond the scope of the superficial.

I thought perhaps the next works in sequence would turn introspective and/or lend an impression on his life merging out of his time as a monk; in one regard it did, but in truth, most of the next sequences are a bit of a hodgepodge of different portraits of life – some of the natural world, others a more critical view of politics or other hardy topics that prove to be a bit layered in what their attempting to relate to you. The one that struck me the most though of the batch, happened to be the first one I mentioned, the one that hinges back to his time as a Buddhist monk – as it’s a retrospective and intuitive rumination about how although time continues to shift forwards, the mind does not need to regret backwards in regret; as found in the poem “Visiting the Temple Again”. All of life has purpose and meaning, to regret even an hour we had previously lived would be to chastise our present and affect our future, of any good mirth that could be yielded out of what we lived and learnt from the past.

In “Yanking the Starter Rope” we’re privy to a rites of passage where a young boy starts to recognise his growth into a young man – whose purposeful chore of mowing and weeding grass took on a new depth of centreing when he contemplated it was not long ago where he was not granted the confidence of handling a mower or the chore on his own accord. A small passage of maturity at his fingertips and yet, it left an impression that held a contemplation of how ‘time’ and ‘duty’ can walk hand in hand. There is a bit of innocence underneath the words, where the boy himself is half questioning and half acknowledging this transitional period, not with the enlightenment of maturity but with the curiosity of youth.

Rather than finding an uplift of centre in the title poem of the collection (‘ergon’) I found a rather disturbing piece (to put it mildly) about mental health and conditions inside mental institutions. I am unsure how this particular piece parlayed itself to the theme of ‘ergon’ as there is a referenced quote from Aristotle to proceed it that leant a far different approach than the one I felt the poet took. It is beyond darkening and I fear, I had to forestall the ending as I reached that point where knowing more was not as much motivation than to seek out the next poems in turn.

“Reprieve” is one of my favourites within this collection because its speaking to the human condition – of how to temper our reactions (especially in the immediacy of response) by re-conditioning how we react if we re-direct our anger. It’s a pause to remind ourselves that if we step away and recede from the trigger of angered rage, we might in turn, find the boiling of our emotions emptying out of us as quickly as they entered if our hands are occupied with another task. It’s a strong poem as through it’s simplicity are a hidden depth of honest wisdom.

The quiet re-prose of “Body Surfing” is a smile of a nod towards how longevity in marriage can provide small gestures of kindness on both sides of the marriage. Herein we share two different points of view on surfing in the waves, as the poet himself is uncertain of safety but his wife is caught up in the purity of feeling free and one; tethered into the timeless cycle of the ocean’s currents. This is where we see a small light of how two souls can be both united and separated, but conjoined by love are never truly far apart. He might humour her in this memory – to occupy his time to understand something she appreciates without end, but in his heart, he’s more concerned by how much ‘time’ has slipped past them, of how the hours are dwindling and how very little of it might still remain.

“Until Lightning Comes” is a responsive poem about consequences and choices – how what we seek out might be proved to be good for us or might altogether be inherently bad – to be to curious is not to be one long for this world. This is a poem that treats the experiences (memories) of a young child as if there were small kernels of foreknowledge stepping forward ahead of his actions where impulsiveness was not a virtue he should have become attached inside. Although somber in tone, it holds a quickfire ending that gives the most of what you had hoped you’d find in this little story – how to articulate the meaning behind the ‘whys’ rather than focusing solely on the ‘hows’.

I believe “The Rain” is the cornerstone piece in this collection – as it’s a juxtaposition of how during one singular event you will find an immeasurable amount of responses. How people afflict their lives with the silliness of fretting over something as mundane as ‘rain’ and how such a natural event can affect their mood. Singer hints towards something greater than the downpour, how even during such an outpour of nature’s ordering manner to cleanse and to clean itself with renewed shine, there are moments where as humans interact with what is naturally occurring around them, they respond differently; almost as if the water flowing out of the clouds is quite unnatural and foreign. They miss the joy of the rain as much as the possible rainbows gracing the skies – they are more concerned with the inferred disruption than to see how blessed they were for the rain itself.

There are passages from boyhood to adulthood throughout the collection – poems that seek to express the truthfulness of growing and the literate way in which we first understand ourselves or our world. There are reflective pauses to show how time can yield a different perspective, even on the same memory, how new information can alter what was previously unknown or at least, probe a bit further into what was really first observed but later understood more in full. There are pieces that challenge you (as foresaid, ‘ergon’ was too much of one for me) whilst most of the collection is a turning of a clock, back against what had been lived or seen or observed, whilst walking through moments of clarity and self-introspection.

I must admit, there are small flitterings of strong words to which I felt nearly were out of context as they arrived without warning and were simply ‘there’ against the page. I am unsure how they added to the moment in which they announced themselves, but there they were altogether. It does grieve me still that some words are just ‘added’ like after thoughts or presumed to be necessary to conclude one’s thought or approach to explain a certain ‘something’ that is felt to be warranting a fierce word over another choice. By the time they entreat into the scene, there is a changing mood – the atmosphere of the first half is lighter, more carefree of choosing which memories to expound upon or recollect one’s original musings by adding or subtracting new subtext to them. The second half appears to be more hardened, a bit stronger in voice and the timing of the poems lengthens – almost as if the space is too short to fully broach all that needs saying.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests
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Posted Wednesday, 12 October, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Indie Author, Modern Day, Poetic Book Tours, Poetry, Vulgarity in Literature




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