Sand 'n Ashes

Poetry - General
105 Pages
Reviewed on 06/18/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Sand 'n Ashes by Paul Tait is a collection of ninety-five poems that covers everything from love to affection to anguish to transcendence and everything in between. The poems look deceptively easy and simple, but when you read further, you realize that there is something far deeper than one expects. I had to take my time with these poems. I am a former literature student and I thought these poems would be a piece of cake for me. However, these poems were so good, I had to take a moment, step back, and appreciate them for what they offer.

My favorite part of this collection was the one called “Fragments” because these were short, sweet little verses that were very deep and had hidden meanings. Every time I read them, I got to decipher another meaning and something far more different than what I had thought before. My favorites were “Bones Party,” “Bloodletting,” “Cannot Fool the Lie,” “Track 13,” “How Often Do I Scream” and “Nine for Movement.” These were rich poems that gave me something more than I was expecting and I loved that. “Glass Tower” is another favorite and so is the “Stale Break Rotten Cheese.”

The artistry involved in writing Sand ‘n Ashes is brilliant and very dynamic. Poet Paul Tait showed his true genius when he expressed his thoughts in the minimum amount of words. The poems were deep; the words were heartfelt and very creative. I felt that I gravitated towards the darker and deeper poems and he handled them beautifully. These poems are really cool and I was lost in them! Brilliant, simply brilliant!

Christian Sia

Did you talk about his earlier works? Why didn’t I know about them? You know, I am a fan of Paul Tait, yes, just recently, after discovery the gem that is Sand 'n Ashes, the most gorgeous collection of poems I have read this year, and one that I will carry with me for a long time, together with Yogo Poems: Lines to Unfold By by Leza Lowitz. In this slim book, the reader receives an offering of ninety-five, well-crafted poems that feature exciting themes — time, love, the crude day-to-day reality that stares one in the face with its monotony, the throb of life, dreams, wishes, and death. But there is more in between; energy, music, style, and the seductive voice that calls the reader to read between the lines and listen to the silences.

One of my most favorites is “Kerosene Spleen,” a rhythmic poem that is loaded with imagery and beauty: “If you choose / the blues / Oh, yeah, man – / all the way / If you drink/ Kitchen sink /Kerosene / spleen / Play ‘n play /Don’t curse the day /She graces your pleasure /Bends over forever /Don’t mess with it /Eat well from the feast /Trees shall be / Reborn.” Paul Tait demonstrates wonderful mastery of the science of free verse, and his rhythmic style measures with the rhythm of the reader’s heart. Each line break is timely and calculated. The lines are short, exciting, and elegant. I enjoyed the diction which draws from the common experiences of life, each word carefully chosen and endowed with poetic energy. Sand 'n Ashes is a beautiful collection and readers will easily identify with the wonderful poetic seasons it evokes. Paul Tait’s poetry is a delightful read for fans of free verse and I will be going back to it to read some of my favorite lines.

Romuald Dzemo

Sand 'n Ashes by Paul Tait is a beautiful collection of 95 poems that are captivating to read, poems that assemble a wide variety of themes touching on humanity, time and freedom, friendship, human intercourse, dreams, and a lot more. The poems read like little pearls. They are short, written in free verse, and they capture emotions that we hardly recognize, and as the reader reads from one poem to another, they feel a powerful connection to their own humanity.

The style is simple, conversational, and at times the poetic voice addresses the joys and fears, the aspirations and the dreams of the reader. Listen to the first lines of the first poem and feel the emotion and the invitation to follow one’s heart, delivered with such compelling simplicity:

“You’re tired
You want to leave
Get your coat
Tug the breeze
Follow your instincts
Follow your sun
After all,
You are the one.

Some of Paul Tait’s poems are loaded with insight. Some are just plain delightful and the reader can just enjoy their poetic beauty, the fast rhythm, the wonderful imagery and their evocative character. The familiar, contemporary diction of these poems makes them easy to read and the author has a knack for poetic phraseology. No line read awkward to me and I enjoyed the overall length of each poem. Sand 'n Ashes is a collection that will delight fans of free verse and I believe that everyone can find a poem with a message that resonates powerfully in their heart.

Rich Follett

Sand ‘n Ashes by Paul Tait has a raw, visceral, quicksilver eloquence strikingly dissimilar to the mainstream of contemporary poetry. His staccato metaphors and images bob and weave like a champion bantamweight boxer, making Sand ‘n Ashes a thrilling poetic experience. Underpinning the mile-a-minute pace of Tait’s stunning verse is a simultaneously romantic and darkly threatening poetic voice -- a dangerous but irresistible splaying of words upon the page, alternately suggesting rose petals and blood spatter. In Open a Cultured Vein, Tait displays the darker side of his gifts in a dire description of the American Dream: “It’s a mess/One big pile/of tape/Tape and blood/Spit and mud/Young hearts torn to shreds/Friends and foes left for dead/But that is how it is/How it goes.”

Compelling though his darkness may be, there is also a radiant stream of celebratory light running through Paul Tait’s work, as if he is vividly painting the joys of being human even as he rues human frailty. The gods and Fate play a key role in Tait’s verse, as in the human journey. There is a fatalistic, faintly futile sense of enduring hope running through many of Tait’s poems; for example, Electric Promethean: “We’ve got the fire this time/Prometheus plays the drums/Got to go/Make the show/Whatever else may come/Will come/Tonight.” Paul Tait is a courageous poet, unafraid of challenging the status quo. From 11:17 pm: “Astrologer!/How dare you be so bold!/Patterns of the stars/Cannot be bought and sold.”

The success of Sand ‘n’ Ashes lies ultimately in Paul Tait’s sublime gift for juxtaposing contrasting elements -- joy with despair; love with loss; hope with hopelessness; hubris with humility. Paul Tait is a man keenly aware that all delight is temporal; all success elusive and fleeting. He approaches even his prodigious talent with a kind of wry vulnerability that is achingly human. From Miss Muse: "What am I thinking?/How much have I been drinking?/There is no other life for me/‘cept to be/With you/Miss Muse.” One cannot help but wish that Fate will continue to favor this particular poet/muse relationship.