The Daring of Paradise by Brian Day is an edgy collection of poetry. Religion is the topic of this collection and not necessarily in a reverent way. Being raised a Catholic, but not having set foot in a church or having any serious thoughts about religion in decades, I was still left with a slightly uneasy feeling. Much like a school kid getting his first look at a Playboy magazine, there is a feeling of guilty, wrongdoing, but at the same time a need to continue looking. The same feelings are present for me in reading The Daring of Paradise. So, needless to if you are a conservative Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, you may not want to read this book.
“Jacob, Wrestling” presents the Biblical story of Jacob, but with Jacob wrestling God instead of a man or angel. This wrestling is violent with an almost sexual undertone to the bodily contact. Not the connotation of a Sunday School lesson. Likewise “Pursuing our Pleasure in the Body of Christ” brings the same nearly erotic imagery. The writing is well done and despite the subject matter this is not crucifixes in a bottle of urine or a dung painting of Mary. This is complex and thought out. This is a collection that will have plenty of reviews, all of them either five star or one star with very few taking a middle ground.
“Hunting” brings us St. Peter on the rooftop in The Acts of the Apostles and God telling Peter to kill and eat. In the next stanza tells Krishna and the Khandava forest fire. Both events produce a blood bath for the animals of earth. Peter and Krishna next meet at heaven’s butcher shop and see first hand the carnage of the multitude of mutilated animals, their skins reclaimed from shoes and belts. Religion and the pleasures of the kill.
No religion is spared in Day’s collection. Several figures meet: Jesus and Buddha Commiserate”, “Krishna and Jesus in Algonquin Park”, and “Guru Nanak and Jesus”. Although Christianity is the subject of most poems there is plenty of variety in the subjects. Gay men want to be Mary in “A Wish to be Mary”:
We all want to be seared by the need of God,
to have this night blazoned with the mark
of pure scalding, to be wreaked
with a blessing that exceeds human shape.
The Daring of Paradise provides a paradox. While it may be sacrilege for the those who believe in any of the religious faiths mentioned in the collection, it would be almost meaningless to those with no understanding of the several religions used. Here is a collection for those who understand the faiths of the world, yet do not hold to any of them with much or any conviction. Perhaps these are poems for the Epicurus in all of us.