Margaret Bashaar is one of those people that once you meet her, you’ll never forget who she is. When I first started the Burning River website many years ago and was lucky enough to get a listing in Duotrope, Margaret submitted to me for the now defunct Noun Vs. Verb lit journal.
She came to Cleveland then for a reading at Visible Voice in support for the release. In her new chapbook from Blood Pudding Press, there is mystique, grit, reality and a haunting-all the reasons I picked up her work many years ago. Lines of her poetry go from the place where she bends from woman to rabbit to sparrow and into a mouth full of needles, she prays for orange sunsets.
What fascinates me about this collection and why you should pick it up are two things. There is the voice and writing of Margaret riding that razor line describing the world in three parts: the way we want it, the way it really is, and then what the omniscient say it is. But then there is the concept of the book itself. It is built like a haunted room of an old hotel.
From the beginning namesake poem (my favorite) and into the lives of it’s tenants and the character Claire, I’m left wondering who built this? What carpenter and mason, what era and generation?
The chapbook, from Blood Pudding Press and editor Juliet Cook, is sly, but firm and inching in it’s wholehearted transformation from mere pages and ink, transforming itself into a living breathing thing. The collection is carefully handbound and came with a token of small, still life photos: a number 27, someone skipping up rickety stairs, a typewriter typeset. This is somewhere you want to stay awhile, somewhere you want to understand whether it was always inside yourself or here at the hotel and what lies upstairs or around the hall corner.
The book will leave you flipping it’s pages back and forth like memories of your life or people you knew, opening and closing tenant doors and then the doors themselves inside of you. You will escape somehow into another life at the Grand Midway Hotel. You will escape somehow, but not be able to put down the book in full knowledge of what it represents. I couldn’t. It will haunt you.