Many thanks to Christina Anne Taylor, editor at Middle Island Press, for her review of Plato Poetica.
A Poetica Place book review by Christina Anne Taylor)
I can see Plato himself raising his cloud white eyebrows over my latest acquisition for our Red Salon: Plato Poetica by Daniel Klawitter. Within the elegant cover are four parts consisting of thirty poems (one in four parts) and a prose piece, and though the book developed from a concise concept, the themes of the poems vary considerably with the binding substance being epigraphs from Plato. The reader must begin with the preface to put everything into context; the reader must understand that the poet knows full well what he’s doing as he juxtaposes his modern-day voice against the timeless philosopher. That in itself is amusing.
The poems themselves vary in style but maintain a consistent signature that rings true to the poet. My personal favorite might actually be the perceptive prose piece titled “Esmeralda and the Hellhounds of Anubis.” As a woman, I relate to the theme of cats and enjoy such thoughts as “…cats have one paw in this world and the other three paws in the realm of spirits.” Esmeralda raises a paw and breaks the prose with an incantation:
Disobedience is heroic.
It’s wrong to persecute witches.
Hell is a world with no poets
And Heaven a charm of finches.
“Barnyard of the Gods” was enjoyable with lines such as:
…Hades is in the cellar
canning the souls of the dead….
Clever wit is a perennial recurrence throughout Plato Poetica, but Klawitter does have a serious side, and when he’s in serious mode he waxes most poetic, as in “The Most Shameful Thing”:
My sackcloth soul
is a waste of windswept ashes—
a hermitage of pollution.
So the poet admits openly in his preface that these seventy-four pages are an experiment of a sort with each poem being inspired by an epigraph, and I think it was worthwhile–worth his time and worth readers’ time.