New Review of Plato Poetica

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:

Dogs are prose and prone to please.
Mice are good for eating.
When moonlight splinters through the trees
We watch humans while they’re sleeping.

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.

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