Loudspeaker Review:: Remembering Pluto by Tyquan Morton

 Photo: Joe Visualss

Photo: Joe Visualss

A book of poems is always a journey. The goal of any good collection is to leave the reader mentally, emotionally and spiritually in a new place by the end of a book. In Remembering Pluto, Tyquan Morton’s projection for us is a much-needed and fruitful trek, a journey through our own personal galaxies.

In Morton’s debut collection, the planets of the solar system name the book’s chapters, where we begin at Mercury and end at Pluto. The voice of the collection moves seamlessly from discussing everyday microagressions and pain to the speaker declaring love to invisible entities like gravity, the lady of the moon or an absent father. Dimension and space are toyed with, even within the lines, as in these lines from Cupid from the Venus chapter:

She looks down
& cries over what

used to be an ocean.
Opens her legs. Submerges

her fingers in an empty womb,
in search of an engagement ring

Here, Morton conflates the big and small—the depth and scale of an ocean is now absent, and the intimate space of the womb is void of life. There is great care taken into these moments throughout the book, where however new these images appear, everything is just within reach.

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The pacing of the collection is slow and deliberate. Poems of existential concern follow poems recounting trauma or family memories. The planet chapters each create their own identity; or rather the poems within them speak to each other in their own language.

The Mars chapter spoke with a sense of violence and weight, with titles such as martians do not run away from fires, I’ve been shot, and You dropped a bomb on me. Saturn, however, seems more concerned with sensuality, sexual tensions and anxiety, while Uranus slows us down and requires a stiller, more patient listener. These poetic shifts are subtle, while the overall poetic voice remains focused and clear on its trajectory. There is a warmness and familiarity to this collection of planets. The book offers richness into the void.

When you see a star like this on your shelf, you reach out and grab it.


 

Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” plays
at AFROPUNK FEST Atlanta & everyone sings
along & this is what it means to be black

& this is what it means to love. You hold my hands & kiss
them for the first time without conviction. Is my hand suppose to

cover yours or vice versa? I hold your breathe while you stand in
line, ordering us the blackest chicken & waffles I’ve ever

tasted. You come back & it’s hidden & you can’t find it &
maybe you forgot to ask because you know I’ll keep it safe.

This is radically beautiful & alternative. We sing together &
love with an echo & a silence & You become somebody else /

‘round everyone else / watching your back, like you can’t relax / You're
trying to be cool, you look like a fool to me.
I use to sing this

song like a sin at the bus stop on the iPod I stole & hid it in
the closet among other things. I kept the volume low &

when someone looked my way, I turned blacker and bluer &
hid my shadow under the moon. And you fall and you

crawl and you break / And you take what you get and you turn it into honesty.
This is the case for everyone here: radically beautiful &

alternative. We continue singing & loving our black & blue
bodies under the moon, Is my hand suppose to cover yours or vice

versa?
& this is what love feels like & to love & to be loved.

 

Tyquan Morton, born in Charleston, SC and currently residing in Jacksonville, FL, is a poet, an English teacher, and an anti-Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence advocate. He paints the world with words in attempt empower himself and anyone who’s willing to listen. Tyquan’s first book of poetry, Remembering Pluto, explores themes of joy and trauma, love and heartbreak, and what it means to be human again. Morton’s work has been published in the inaugural issue of The Good Juju Review and For The Scribes.