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The Metaphysician's Daughter by Richard K. Ostrander Reviewed on True Grit Lit

  

The Metaphysician's Daughter. Richard K. Ostrander. BlazeVOX Books. 2016.

Poet Richard K. Ostrander is clearly experimenting in many of the poems in this slim (standard-sized) volume of poetry, but his more sincere efforts into his poetry are the most rewarding. I am thinking in particular of his contemplation on the saying “that’s how they do you…” with his own: “It’s funny how they do you / then they don’t / that’s exactly how they do!” The saying comes up, back-to-back in his poems “Dromedary” and “Sin Eaters.” It kept me interested, not only because of how it varies in tone, going from quaint cliché to gross resentment or discontent, but also because it simultaneously alienates the narrator and reader.
The narrative in “Dromedary” uses the how-they-do-you saying in the contexts of a job interview. The narrator meeting an interviewer with his two-page resume and half-Windsor-knotted tie and knowing he probably has more experience etc. and that he’s probably taking himself down a peg just to land a much-needed paycheck. So, he uses how-they-do-you to snap himself out of it and realize where he’s at, sacrificing the self-examined life for the real world-ness. 
In “Sin Eaters” the how-they-do-you expounds on the poem’s narrator’s wartime experience:

They’ll have your six
until the twelve
then you’ll be the one.
[…]
They’ll call it clear
and when you’re near
you’ll learn its green on blue.
Ostrander keeps it simple and to the point, but the feelings that come with it are complex. It reminds me of a Rudyard Kipling poem “We and They” that ends on this thought:
All good people agree,
            And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
            And everyone else is They:
But if you cross the sea,
            Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
            As only a sort of They!
“The Rockfish” might be the best poem in the collection. The poem's speaker teeters between dream and memory recalling a brother named Gregg, while the Rockfish itself is left undefined, something colloquial that the reader will probably never know or understand. But it is this type of unique, highly personal contemplations that establish Ostrander's best poems. And if you’re wondering about the title of the book: “The Metaphysician’s Daughter” the closest answer we get to what or who this is comes in the poem “The Town Drunk’s Daughter.”
Read the whole review here 

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