Some poets have the ability to take the mundane or often uninteresting and through a rebranding in depth and metaphor present to the reader something fresh and attention-grabbing. Patrick Warner has just this talent and throughout his new collection, Mole, creates an assortment of vignettes that draw on everyday happenings.
Many of the poems in Mole are brief meditations on discussions, places, or tasks that take the reader deeper into the mind of the poet, but also father into the impact these things can have on the person involved. One such case is the poem “Picket”, in which the speaker recounts work scraping and painting a fence. This is tedious and repetitive, but the longer the task takes the greater the intrinsic reward. Warner refers to a scraper as “long handled…with cupboard-door grip, / its buttoned-down blade like a hieroglyph.” Later he uses terms such as “rote”, “bubble jet’s ink” and “actor on stage” to compare painting a fence to an act of creation, in particular that of knowledge, writing or the arts in general. To an extent, there is rote learning and study, but these later give way or provide a basis to higher learning that comes through in an artist’s work, whether it is on paper or the stage.
The settings chosen for poems throughout the book highlight the scope and variation of the writing. At times these places are local or personal in nature (around a mother’s sewing machine, a small town with which the speaker is intimately acquainted); at other times there is an element of labour involved (painting a fence, conducting research in the archives of Minneapolis); at others still a social quality, a sense of relaxation (a southern sun-bathed beach, a Japanese restaurant hosting social events). This mixing of place and situation allows Warner much creative leeway when exploring the intense personal and reflective effects these varying occurrences can spark within us. In this endeavor the poet does not disappoint.
Through a combination of place, task and a mind occupied with focusing on similarities between the personal, social and educational, Warner leads the reader through his own backyard on an enlightening tour of what is at once known but strange, delving into experience and the sense made of them.