Billings Gazette Review - The Days Run Away
Reviewed by: Diane Arkava
Poetry collection balances humor, fantasy with suffering, death
"The Days Run Away" is a journey of growing up and coming to terms with the painful realities of life. Robert Currie uses humor and fantasy to balance the discoveries of suffering and death.
He opens the first section by exploring the magical possibilities of childhood. "Beyond The Open Window" employs the theme of fantastical flight with great imagination: "my right arm disengages from my shoulder, the hand / flips me the finger and goes with it, sailing out the window, / it's flight erratic as a wing stripped from an erring angel." Here Currie blends the sacred and the profane — the "erring angel" and the newly liberated hand flipping the birdie.
He challenges readers' expectations by combining the beautifully lyrical, sorrowful and hopeful.
"The Girl from Maidstone" is a poem about a girl losing her father and falling in love at the same time: "Ice on the bridge to the hospital gone, the river / Beginning to flow, Canada geese flying north, / their cries drawing her father from bed / to the window that was clear of frost / and warm to his touch as he stood / for the last time and gazed across the city / toward the theater on Second Avenue / where he knew his daughter was falling in love." Currie shows death and love inhabiting not only the same landscapes, but the same hearts.
Another poem, "Hamid," elicits shock with the perspective of a young Iranian boy gathering rocks that will be used to stone his favorite sister. The poem is an exercise in empathy.
In the final section of the book, readers witness the process of Currie writing about losing a fellow writer to ALS. But the collection is not only about sadness. Currie restores hope in in his final poem, "Ulysses." Here his friend's journey of dying continues beyond death. His is a life restored in the memory and hope of the writer who remembers him.
Readers of "The Days Run Away" are challenged to face hard truth. We learn that through the art of writing and reading, we can be present to the painÍ¾ we are not alone, and this is a balm to suffering.
A pharmacist-turned-English teacher, Currie edited and published Salt, a literary magazine. As a part of the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, he helped found the production cooperative Coteau Books. Currie has been publishing works of poetry and prose since 1967, earning recognition and awards for poetry and children's literature. He was named poet laureate for Saskatchewan 2007-2008.
"The Days Run Away" is a collection of poetry and a finalist for the High Plains Book Award in poetry.