The Incoming Tide by Cameron Pierce
Broken River Books, 2015
88 pages / $7.95 Buy from Amazon
Could the pocket-sized volume of poetry be the most important political statement in the debate for art’s universal appeal? Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems—and the rest of “The Pocket Poets Series,” really—certainly vied for the necessity of a teensy book of verse to accompany lunch. Cameron Pierce’s newest book, The Incoming Tide, is a slim volume of poetry and lyrical essays about Pierce’s fishing adventures, his life in Astoria, and his transition into domestic life and fatherhood, and it’s an excellent lunchtime companion, too.
Pierce has been publishing a slew of fish-themed books this year, but The Incoming Tide marks a high point in his writing career. The collection maintains the sincere weirdness of his excellent story collection Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon while distancing itself from the bizarro moniker so firmly branded across his previous books. And, sure, there’s an essay about an experience with a haunted lawnmower, poems referring to “the skeleton hands of aliens,” and there’s a firm skull motif throughout, but, for the most part, reality is a far more constant feature in this collection than in Pierce’s previous work. “Up [on XXX Creek] there exists a futuristic world where trout outnumber people,” Pierce writes. “That’s my kind of science fiction.”
The reverence he holds for fish and fishermen alike, the reverence for “the personal narratives that develop” while a fisherman goes about his job and how fishing is “about… how a fish fights—and just as importantly, how you fight the fish,” is contagious. I’ve never been a fan of fishing, and yet, I yearn to fish after reading Pierce’s collection, I long to go with him and his friends to dig clams, and, most of all, I wish he and his wife really would open up a Richard Brautigan-themed restaurant. But I suppose taking The Incoming Tide, with its faux-distressed cover—as if begging to be dog-eared and shoved in a back pocket or, more appropriately, a tackle box—along with me and reading it over and over will just have to do for now.