“In his debut collection, Charles G. Lauder is not afraid to delve beneath the surface of white masculinites, unearthing violence and toughness but vulnerability and tenderness also. This means examining his own past in the US; what he has inherited, what he brings to his life in England, and what he finds there. Again and again, poems reveal that his family is his lodestone: ‘We are our elements. I would be lost/without them.’ The Aesthetics of Breath is a rich and varied collection which has love and social justice at its heart but does not turn aside from uncomfortable truths.” Pam Thompson
“The Aesthetics of Breath is NOT a breath of fresh air – it is a deep breathing-in of a gas called ‘history’, so that it hurts in the lungs. Be they personal myths or legends of entire nations’ violence, here the vapours of various histories sublimate into Lauder’s vivid solidifications – poems that render the distance and otherness of places and times as touchable and smelt. Some of these poems are ‘stellar gases congealing into orbits’, and they are celebratory confirmations of essential stories we humans need to tell our selves. But be warned: some of these poems cast ‘Hiroshima shadow[s]’ to exorcise our civilisation’s pale myths, its ghosts that too often comfortably haunt us, and our too easy and shallow breaths of memes. At times this book is like opening a grave to find the buried still alive ... and violently gasping out accounts of ‘the ruling passions of the woods’.” Mark Goodwin
The Aesthetics of Breath is very personal, yet very eternal.
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And the man spied on the bridal path,
shimmering, vaporous, slow in gait
like a predator through grass, is black.
Parents waiting at the school gate
ask, Does he wear a backpack?
Our village is tasked with isolation
like an open wound wary of infection.
A Jamaican lived here for a season,
drank in the pub with his white wife’s son.
Are you visiting? we asked.
Our childminder is on the back lane
when the man falls in step, asks her name.
He is a carer for a chronic smoker
in Norden Heath. Going for a walk
is the only way he can breathe.
Listen to and watch the poet reading his The Aesthetics of Breath poem, 'Sir Walter Raleigh of Bexar County, Texas', below:
"[...]In the fascinating long poem "Incarnations", imagery and language are pitch-perfect, chronicling the story of a couple. The separate strands of their lives weave together, forming something new, but there is divergence as well as rapprochement, a sense that individuals never wholly become part of each other, but strive toward "different peaks with different views". [...] "Incarnations" strikes me as a terrific poem, turning personal experience into something universal in the way that poems should do, but so often don't."
Sheenagh Pugh, full review here.
"[..]the careful building of these poems into a logical order, the vivid depiction of transient lives, the insight into social and historical events, was competent and challenging. The strength and beauty of some poems more than made up for lapses into the esoteric and, as reader, I felt gifted with the surprising perspective of man and father."
Pat Edwards, London Grip, full review here.
"History blends with family in this engaging and impressive debut collection by Charles G. Lauder. [...]
"In some ways this manifold debut— taking in, as it does, historical figures, family lives, the problem of evil, and how an element of fantasy and danger is never far from our perception of those we treasure and love— might strain at the edges and become less a sum of its parts, and more of, well, a collection. What draws it together is the consistent awareness of a sense of self. ‘Between lives no light defines us / no mirror reassures us’ as Lauder presents it in ‘Incarnations’: how we are different people in different contexts and how we remain enigmatic and unknowable even to those closet to us. This necessary blurring of character is, ultimately, what charges the writing, exploring the simple, everyday doublings wherein lie ordinary hypocrisies, dreams and nightmares, as well as betrayal and infamy. The lies we tell, the love we offer, and the poetry we read: all are the aesthetics of breath."
Daniel Bennett, The High Window, full review here.