The World Before Snow by Tim Liardet (Poetry Book Review)
Updated: May 26, 2020
Poetry teaches us to stumble over words and to enjoy them as we fall into their intoxicating wonder and majesty. The World Before Snow by Tim Liardet, reminds us what a beautiful thing it is to not just stumble, but indeed to carefully settle upon words, the way a snowflake might settle upon a ledge amid a beautiful winter storm. His poetry is deeply rich with metaphor, invention and originality, but at the heart of this collection of poetry, is the reinvention and rediscovery of self. Sometimes we see ourselves most clearly through the eyes of the people around us, and this collection is said to be the resulting inspiration from a life-transforming love affair that started back in 2013, when Liardet met an American poet during a blizzard in Boston.
Each poem is deeply wrapped up in the riddles and circumstances of love, pain, life, and the deep life-changing force of all these things, from the sinful brashness with which it changes us, and the interconnecting embodiment of love that sinks beneath us and saves us, yet twists around inside of us, as if our bodies spiral into one consciousness, but then appears somehow lost. The poems themselves flow like a river across the page, yet Liardet somehow demands to be read slowly, so that his words may sink into us, ‘we loom like giants,’ he writes, ‘through rain and steam, through so much steam.’ That’s just one line that I love, and which seems to demonstrate the freshness and wonderful flow of his words.
The poems titled ‘Ommerike,’ of which there are four, all seem to deal directly and less ambiguously with the storm that sparked a life-changing love affair. In the second one of these, Liardet writes, ‘The Snowstorm came down, it blew across Boston, it said all roads behind you are closed for good.’ The last line perhaps alludes to the fact that life after this chance meeting will never be the same again, for the roads of the past can never be reopened.
This is the first collection I have read of Liardet, and it has certainly made me want to read more of his work. He has a wonderful way of surprising me with his invention, like in the following verse:
'and how a thought has feet–how mine can wrap
those of your next thought, which wraps its feet
which grips so tight, they could be hard to separate.’
This will not be a collection to everyone’s taste, but Liardet is a masterful wordsmith, and I’m glad the wonderful title and cover drew me in. It comes from me, very highly recommended.