System of Ghosts by Lindsay Tigue – A Review


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Rake your palm through tree rot. /Rub its umber matter against your shins. /Seek silence that fills with pine trunk creak. /And after you settle in this shifting, lose / largeness. Lose any sense of it at all.

from For the Ghost You Might Become

I was reading the novel Lions by Bonnie Nadzam while reading System of Ghosts. Had I consciously tried to couple up books according to subject matter I couldn’t have found a better match. One of the things that resonated with me most in both Nadzam’s novel and Lindsay Tigue’s collection of poetry was the idea of absence being a presence in itself. The space someone leaves behind when they’re gone, the subtle presence of a life once lived in a now abandoned house, the places that no longer exist, but hold a space inside of us.

System of Ghosts has three parts, held together by a series of poems called ‘Abandoned Places’, forming an anchor to the collection.
Tigue’s poems seem to try to capture the world in it’s multitudes of facets, tracing it back to the origins, both curious for the source as well as afraid to leave anything behind.
Reading Tigue’s poems sometimes feels like standing in a tight rain of snippets of history, geology, personal or hear-say anecdotes, bits of seemingly trivial information and deeply personal experiences and as it all washes over you there’s a slow forming of a web, an interconnectedness that is felt more than it is understood.
In its core it feels like an attempt to be intimate with all that is, and all that was.

A wonderful collection of poetry.

with thanks to University of Iowa Press and NetGalley for the ARC