“You trapped me, you caged me, / you raised me for pure slaughter value. / Stuffed me with moon mad metaphor / and red threadbare simile over easy. / Slender means for your foie gras goose— / a famine mistook for a feast.”
“The Kneeling Poem’s Plea”, the opening poem to Actual Tigers, William Crawford’s second poetry collection, places Crawford as vessel–as all poets are–but more than that…This is a plea from a place of great sensitivity to issues of beauty; to creativity; to value and worth; and to wounded feelings surrounding all of these. Naturally perceptive, without even trying he tunes into the feelings of others and the mood of his surroundings; intuitively grips how the dreams, hopes and disappointments of people are creatively expressed through music and lifestyle. Crawford, himself, appears to have a natural affinity to music; while most of us enjoy music, he responds to music as a vehicle to heal and elevate the soul. Inevitable, then, that he creates poetry rich in lyrical musicality, imagination and deep sensitivity. For Hart Crane, from “Uncut Rain”, “You were always lost at sea / Forever drowning in your own depths. / Climbing down through cerulean chambers / While still facing the raging surface / Where the sun’s truth / Is just a broken yolk / Or maybe only a golden eye / With which to see yourself reflected / In the cold fathomless water below / Crossing another bridge as it burns.”
From “How I Disappear”, “my ears / cannot stand / my voice / they shouldn’t hear me now / when I say, / the next sunrise / shall be my last.” There is a distinct need to escape into the world of imagination, largely because Crawford tends to "take in" a lot of mixed energies from his surroundings; strong feelings and hunches overcome/overwhelm him. Throughout Actual Tigers, Crawford displays his–though at times painfully disappointed and frustrated–remarkable talent for expressing the most obscure and unfathomable; this gift he has for getting right to the marrow of a subject; understanding, then visualising and verbalising things in a way that is easily understood by others. The timeworn conjectures–which cast their droning shadows–those spooks melt away in Actual Tigers. Mostly, Crawford tastes a honeyed real from a higher plane where all is new, where there is the eternal now, where we can always find our burning bright asteroid. Sometimes ethereal, others candid, noble, humane, refined, idealistic, serious-minded yet gracious, at times breathtakingly beautiful, and all tempered with a warm down-to-earthiness; you reach a vantage point, in this collection, from which to view life without the heavy blinkers of conventional limits.
From the beginning, Crawford’s genius lay in his outstanding ability to exceed the common boundaries of established truth; he is granted with the means to descry; to make a closer contact to what is called true Wisdom. Freed from the orthodox, even for an ephemeral moment, he sees the world and the problems threatening it in a purer light. From “Blepharospasm”, “and you’d like a straight razor / to slice open the void / in hopes that it drips / one vision pure / or just a sterile spoon / to scoop it out forever / for it drives you crazy / and that’s a day trip / you see, / there are some dark kingdoms / where a one-eyed man can still make it”. And in this collection, William Crawford does just that.
We extend our most deepest gratitude to Jacqueline A. Corcoran for this stunning and in depth review.