Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle
by Eddie Woods
review by Mark McCawley
Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle by Eddie Woods
Barncott Press, Kindle Edition, 2012
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B006TM8UDC, 51pp
Tsunami of Love CD
Amsterdam, Ins and Outs Press, 2007
In the preface to Eddie Woods’ 2011 Barncott Press Kindle edition eBook, Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle, Glasgow writer/anthologist J.N. Reilly says: “I cannot think of a poem similar to ‘Tsunami of Love.’ I doubt there is one; a gaping wound cauterized with such honesty.”
There is, however, one other poetry collection that immediately comes to mind. It’s been thirty-five years since I first read Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Lady’s Man and Eddie Woods’ Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle is the first cycle of poetry since that time that matches Cohen’s collection in terms of the demise of modern love, common-law marriage, sexual desire, and sexual obsession. Both poets deconstruct, reconstruct, criticize, explicate their long, passionate, sexual affairs. Both are by turns tender, despairing, sarcastic, erotic, self-loathing, prosaic and ultimately sublime in their depictions of intense love gone awry. As collections, each certainly does uniquely compliment the other. I cannot think of one without thinking of the other. Indeed, in the annals of poetry and world literature, I know of few collections so closely and intimately related. A connection deserving of further study.
I love you, I hate you, I cherish what we had.
You’ve put so many miles between us,
there’s nothing left but the dust of friendship.
(Tsunami of Love, III. End Game, p.19)
In Tsunami of Love, the affair begins 23 years earlier after a series of brief platonic encounters while traveling in India with other spouses. Only later would they exchange addresses, maintain an intense correspondence which would spiral through the intervening years:
Two decades of platonic intimacy
ere I penned my portrait for you,
a wave of emotion posing as words.
After that, there was no turning back,
the tug of seduction was far too strong.
“I’m throwing myself at you,” you wrote.
Nothing short of having you, keeping you,
could exceed the thrill of reading that line;
unless we count the telephone sex, that is,
by which time we were one another’s.
(Tsunami of Love, I. Late Winter Lyrics, p.8)
Without frills or background music, the 2007 spoken-word CD by Eddie Woods, Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle, from Ins & Outs Press (distributed by New Antique Records) is an excellent accompaniment to the Barncott Press eBook. Woods’ calm and warm oratory draws the listener/reader into his ever-widening web of metaphysical, sensual, and physical love with “Jenny” — first via letters, then by phone, and finally in the flesh.
It is when Woods first ponders the sacrifice of his cosmopolitan lifestyle and the nourishing literary stew of Amsterdam to move in with the divorced Jenny and her children in their English countryside that makes the poet consider the seed of their affair’s ultimate demise to be set in motion:
Was playing house a mistake?
Could we have kept loving alive
by loving from a distance:
me visiting frequently,
rather than parking
all my cerebral baggage
distractedly in your midst?
(Tsunami of Love, I. Late Winter Lyrics, p.11)
Indeed, the image and theme of the poet “domesticated” is one which weaves itself as an underlying allegory in both Cohen’s and Woods’ poetry collections. Cohen asks “forgive me for tightening my asshole / against thee” (“Speech to My Old Friend”, p.145, Death of a Lady’s Man, 1978). And Woods: “You resented Amsterdam, didn’t you? / As though it somehow divided us. / I knew so many people there: / poets, writers, artists, etc.” (Tsunami of Love, “Later Lyrical Musings: Getting There, Being There, and Leaving”, p.27) Did Woods notice the first hallmarks of domesticity, the need to control? To isolate?
It was almost endearing,
you wanting to see my letters
before I sealed & posted them,
along with those I received.
“We’re together,” you said,
“and I show you mine.”
It was also a trifle weird.
Ever requested that
of anyone else?
At the time
I avoided asking;
fear of upsetting you,
disturbing our rapport.
(Tsunami of Love, “Later Lyrical Musings: Getting There, Being There, and Leaving”, p.27)
Love, passion, sex exist in the fleeting obsessions and desires of the moment, as Woods so elegantly and sensuously communicates in “Only Between Thighs”, I suppose made it easy to overlook the obvious fractures in their union:
Eddie Woods — Only Between Thighs
Still, Tsunami of Love is not solely a cycle of poems concerned with regrets, it also celebrates the perpetual hopefulness of falling in love, of desire, of sex, no matter one’s age, as Woods recites in the love poem, “Portrait for Jenny”:
Eddie Woods — Portrait for Jenny
Time, familiarity, domesticity are the enemies of passion, desire, of love. Such is the Myth of Sisyphus. So is the poet’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of heartbreak. There are no answers. Only the struggle itself. One must imagine the possibility of ecstasy. The possibility of happiness. The possibility of love. Let us imagine both Eddie and Lennie struggling with their love.UG
Physical copies of the CD, Tsunami of Love: A Poems Cycle by Eddie Woods can be ordered through Woods’ Ins & Outs Press in Amsterdam:
Ins & Outs Press
P.O. Box 3759
1001 Amsterdam, Netherlands
or email: email@example.com
Eddie Woods is an American poet, prose writer, editor and publisher who lived and traveled in various parts of the world, both East and West, before eventually settling in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where in 1978 he started Ins & Outs magazine and two years later founded Ins & Outs Press. According to Stanford University Libraries, which house Woods’ archive: “In his role as a cultural impresario and artistic entrepreneur, Eddie Woods… is an important presence, both in American expatriate circles and among European avant-gardists, especially Dutch and Italian. Woods’ promotional activities made him, in short, a crucial center to the movement, and his archive documents his close connections with its leading figures…”