Song of Ourself by Erik Richardson. Kelsay Books, 2017.
By Cody Bentley
Love has many interpretations and meanings discussed and written about by many throughout the years. Erik Richardson’s collection of poems, Song of Ourself, gives his own interpretation and meanings to this topic. He continues many typical themes in this area, but also adds his own to the mix. Along with this, all of his poems are connected so that they create a story of love that one can become entrapped and invested in.
By connecting all of these poems, Richardson is able to draw the reader in and make them a part of the story. This can really be appreciated in the choice to use the first-person narration. In lines like “let us be heroes and ride to the rescue, or shall we quietly drift to the edges,” a reader can almost forget that they are reading someone else’s love story and feel as if they are themselves writing these words. What is more, Richardson’s use of “we” is scattered throughout these poems in a light way so that one is transported into the story he is telling you.
It is not enough to just read these poems, however. Richardson drips in little things that allow you to feel, and even hear, these stories unfold. One line, “harp-strumming breath,” really helps a reader feel the passion between the two lovers in the scene. On top of that, it trickles in the theme of music that goes along with love without making it an overpowering message. In fact, many sequences have these light hints like “let the divine chords of my organ pipes echo.” In this way, Richardson likens the pieces of the lovers’ bodies to music, making a graphic topic into music itself.
It is not just music that Richardson uses to show us love in a new light, but rather just one of many elements he sprinkles throughout his poems. Perhaps one of the more common themes, he also uses flowers and fauna to illustrate beauty. Lines like “every wildflower in the meadow short or tall, thick-stemmed or thin” use this common analogy for beauty, but take it a step farther. Beauty is not being seen here as only one thing, but rather coming in all shapes and sizes, which pushes Richardson to use many types of flowers in his poetry. He is not just saying flowers are beautiful, but redefining how we use them.
Overall, Song of Ourself is a book of poems that takes the everyday idea of love and adds its own spin to it. Not every writer could craft a new idea like this, but after reading these poems it is apparent that Erik Richardson is not your everyday writer. He uses themes and wordplay effortlessly to draw in his audience and make them a part of the story. In the end, this love story is not just for the two it is written about, but for everyone.