USEREVIEW 044 (Capsule): Ghost Tracks

Staff/ July 28, 2021/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Sneha Subramanian Kanta
Ghost Tracks (Louisiana Literature Press, 2020)
ISBN 978-0-94508-351-1 | 30 pp | $8.95 USD


There are ghosts everywhere in Kanta’s chapbook of poetry. The ghosts “freckle silence” and “remove fishhooks from animal bodies” and are “carried on the wind” with “hands full of flowers.” We are told by the title to expect tracks, traces, as if the ghosts were deer disappearing into the woods, but instead the ghosts are moving about in front of us in plain sight. They are shocking in their plainness, threatening in their unapologetic and unobscured morbidity, as they thread themselves among the fishes and swallows and myrtle trees and crows and all the other creatures that maraud through these poems undeniably alive. But who are these ghosts? We do not know. As I read, the poems feel to me increasingly strange and otherworldly. Sure, sometimes there is a lyrical subject, a familiar ‘I’ now and then to ground them (as in “I wolf my throat”), but mostly these poems are far more distant, more mystical in their rhythms, their fixation on couplets, tercets, couplets, tercets. And I begin to wonder if the ghosts are the ones speaking these words. Speaking of themselves in third person (why wouldn’t the dead do this?). Speaking of life in ways that are familiar but inscrutably significant. When I read these poems, I am unsettled, almost convinced that what I am listening to is the susurrus of the spectres themselves.

Recommended excerpt:

No, do not make me choose. Let this text proliferate. Let me send forth copies of it like they are descendants of a wild rock dove. I will direct them to the houses of writers I love.

Jade Wallace is the Reviews Editor for CAROUSEL. More:
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