Van de Vendel, Edward. “The Sexy Storm”, translated by David Colmer, A Midsummer’s Night Press, 2018.
I bet we can all remember that adolescent crush that occupied our minds endlessly and in fact, we still think about it. Let’s face it teen love is very special with its “thrills and chills” and its tender passion. After all, what do adolescents know of love? Edward Van de Vendel looks at that very same emotion in his collection of poems about young love and each and every entry is a treat. The poems run the gamut of emotions from the joys and pleasure of meeting for the first time to he pain and sorrow of love ending. Age has no influence on the enjoyment of these poems simply because we have all been there. One does not have to be young to enjoy reading about youth just as one does not have to be gay to write a gay love story (Andre Aciman has surely proven that).
I love that Van de Vendel writes with such detail yet his poems remain informal. In “Hallelujah, I was knocked out by “love’s trunk grows strong with annual rings and sends new shoots up in the spring”. There is nothing new here except for the way it is said and the way it is placed in the context of the poem. Not only are we taken back in time, we are made aware that we are reading the past with all of its youthful allusions to sex and feeling, “I feel your goosebumps too”. The poems capture those special moments that we do not let go of and makes sure that we feel them again.
“I’m standing here
With kisses tipped,
If you’re still keen,
I’ll slide in between.”
We certainly sense Van de Vendel’s confidence in what he says and his writing is both sensual and dark ;
“How can I not be more aware
that this body in the bed
makes sleep deeper and more beautiful
makes dreams more childlike?
I was reminded of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” that he referred to as a memory play. These are memory poems that take us back while at the same time keeping us here.
It’s in the past and none of it is now and every day I think:
Will I see you again? I look up. It might not happen
Soon, but the world is open at the top.
Sometimes we all just need to get away and I found “The Sexy Storm” to be a great retreat. With only 40 pages, a poem a day is fine and then it is easy enough to start all over again. The poems never go stale.