It’s been taking me so long to get round to reviewing Rico Craig’s collection of poetry. Putting my finger on why has probably been part of the reason. This year, Bone Ink traveled around the world with me. Really, it should have been flashed at customs and given its own stamps. The delay has never been an issue of its quality. In fact, this is what has been holding me back. The sense that I could not give this collection the accolades, or more, share the joy and astounding presence on the word scene that it should have received. The connection it had for me and the Sydney we somewhat shared was simply a bonus.
I am stifled with personal issues reviewing Australian writers. Well, let’s face it, I don’t review. I share feelings and praise for creative people who flood my life. My dead end with Australian literature is that they tend to hold their kind and throw them higher above all our grey palings. I became so self conscious from trying. Belittled and passed over eyes looking into their chardies. The ghost’s of their leather elbow patched lineage often showing me the door. Even when I tried to re enter, there was no escaping the smirks. I studied my own path and had an epiphany this year. Fuck them.
Bone Ink has been grabbed, opened, re read and sobbed over so often it has tattooed itself into my skin. The pages fall open to where I am thinking now. Rico’s poems screech and burn. ‘Cops Killed Tsakos’. We used to read that graffiti everyday, a billboard of black freehand, its message powerful, stark though no one ever asked each other, ‘whose Tsakos?’ That family’s grief is forever and remembered by more than they would understand. Its role in his piece Angelo, sparks the mood of youth and the game of roulette played with our friends. No eulogy could ever match as I pass another streetlight that goes out while I’m watching.
He continues to write about youth. Those messy times, rough but no less romantic. “our palms cling, sticky with blackberry, backs grass-slapped, pin-pricked with bindis and briars” so cut off my head for reproducing such a small part of prose that should have been dealt with so much more respect and fervour. One hopes all chains are unlocked.
Rico is cinematic, he should be spending his hours with the keepers of the blue light. Through The Witch Window is pure adrenalin. There is a phenomenon in Australia, though a little different to the new towns of England, of new suburbs. I’m constantly going ‘where the fuck is such and such‘ and apparently it’s only 30 k’s away. Emperor Of 32 Bella Vista Drive is the epitome of McMansion syndrome and the curse of daughters with plans grander than theirs. She carries “his devious blood” that of the subdivided ones. Rico’s touch with the suburban illusion is so tantalising and succinct here.
Then there is the beautiful synergy of Malay influence, that ‘sama sama‘ style, that relaxed embodiment of no worries. Monsoonal Light Of Our Childhood outside the rain begins… and Rico is back home in Kellyville unaware of his sublime influence in a cloud of resin. My god Rico, have you read this and been as breathless as me?
Excited to be back in KL, Kuala Lumpur 1977: Prawn Heads, Oil Rigs and Infidelity. The woman is “divine as a gecko, tail part-shed, scaling a wall” and we all know what that means. Rico Craig absorbs the world and reacts the only way he knows how. So excited that his method of delivery is that of a poet. Though Rico’s eyes seem to see further than that, once more mediums are explored.
Always find it difficult to give that rounded sense of prose. The name drop bombs of fucking glossary and etiquette that one seems obliged to fart to be accepted. Been breaking with tradition for a long time now, so better steam ahead. This is a multi city ticket we’re riding. Germany, Russia, Spain and Rico slips into spectres through poppies and sand. When he dances, he likes to sprawl the white pages within the quickstep of time. If I continue this marathon they will yowza, yowza, yowza me off on the microphone.
You can hear the tale and buy Bone Ink here