Sunday, March 04, 2012

Bookmarks -- Prime Directive

Bryan Dietrich's Prime Directive is a moving elegy is the truest sense. The book length poem is about mourning, not only of a father, but a father's mind, and of a world that crumbles around one during loss. Wrapped with the myth of Star Trek, this book provides a fascinating journey. Dietrich covers, of course, life and death, but also deftly handles the ideas and ideals one wrestles with when one encounters one's own mortality.

My own father and step-father passed away, three months apart, and I recall that as a part of the grief process, I came to one of those startling realizations of the obvious. When a man's father dies, a man "finds out" that he is going to die too. It is one of those things we know, but ignore so long that it is as if we do not know. Dietrich's poem wrestles with this idea, and many others.

For those that might worry that Prime Directive is a poem with the usual dense poetic language and references to a television show readers are not familiar with, be still. One does not have to be a Trekkie or Trekker, or have a doctorate in ancient mythology to understand what is happening. Familiarity with these helped to enrich the experience for me, but I don't believe it is necessary. Dietrich provides a first rate essay at the end of the book, "Star Trek as Myth," which is a terrific companion for the verse. It does give the reader some insight into the poem, but as I said, it stands alone just fine.

Full disclosure: Bryan is a friend of mine from graduate school. But I can easily say that had I never known him and I came across Prime Directive, I would still think of the poem as a modern In Memoriam.

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