Jerusalem Plank Road, Brendan Hamilton, Durga Press, 2009, paperback $12.95, digital download, $8.95.
Brendan Hamilton offers 18 poems drawn from "all kinds of historical material" including the oral testimony of his grandfather, a World War 2 veteran who also lost a brother in the war. Hamilton's focus are the losses of the siege of Petersburg: life, youth, futures, and the city.
The poems contain images of earthworks with bomb craters and gabbions. Descriptions of soldiers' brogans, open shirts, muzzle flashes, Rebel yells, 'great Smokey Mountain chuckles', and dirt like that of Golgotha are in the poems. Memories of the past at Fort Mahone lie in the shadow of a Walmart sign. Fort Gregg in the battlefield's military park is bordered by a building that once housed the first hospital in America exclusively for the treatment of mental disease in the Negro. This collection of poems is illustrated with black and white photographs from the Library of Congress collection; many of the photos may be familar to Civil War readers. Several though appear to have limited or little previous circulation. Others are segments of cropped photographs that are revelatory. A notable segment of a cropped photograph is the book's cover that shows an officer probably taking Christian communion.
Brendan Hamiliton lives in Louisville, Colorado with his wife, Kris and their dog, Oliver. A lifelong student of the Civil War, Brendan is a recent graduate of Naropa University’s M.F.A. Writing & Poetics program. He also has a B.A. in history from the College of William & Mary. This is his first book of poetry.
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Text by CWL.