chasers of the light // Tyler Knott Gregson
Overview: One day while browsing through an antique store in Helena, Montana author, poet, and professional photographer Tyler Knott Gregson discovered a vintage typewriter. Without thinking he ripped a page out of an old book he was buying for two dollars and put it into the machine, and from this action came the first poem of the typewriter series. Chasers of the light is the compiled collection of the poems that followed that Gregson describes as, "...simple words on random pieces of paper that snuck into my life along the way...This book, in the simplest terms, is a map my wandering feet have taken in that pursuit."
My Thoughts: I'm going to start out my thoughts right away by saying that I had very high hopes for this book, but finished it feeling slightly dissatisfied. Before you jump to conclusions and assume that just because I felt dissatisfied you will too just hear me out. Let's being with the format and design of the book.
Starting from the beginning, I think the cover of this small book of poetry is beautiful - from the complimentary and contrasting colors, to the type writer themed font that appears to have been typed from the same typewriter as the actual poems contained within. The majority of the poems from chasers of the light appear to have been typed on random pages from books, library due date cards, recycled materials, receipts and other paper-like mediums which I personally believe added a charming nostalgia to the book after having learned about how the first poem of this series was written. A select few of the other poems contained within this book weren't typed on random pieces of paper, but were rather electronically typed and paired with images taken by the artist himself. At first I thought he was just taking random photos that he liked and wrote pretty poems to make the pictures seem even prettier or vice versa, and it took me around halfway through the book to realize that most of these poems were actually inspired by the photos which I mentally granted Gregson creativity points for. The last format for some of the poems within chasers of the light weren't necessarily written by Gregson, but rather were created through the process of blacking out words from torn pages of old books. Now onto my opinion of the actual poems.
As previously mentioned I came into this book with extremely high hopes after all of the good things I heard about it - which I admit isn't necessarily fair to the poet. While I stand behind the statement that I completed this book feeling dissatisfied, I can say that I didn't finish this book feeling completely disappointed. Shortly after starting chasers of the light I decided that I wanted to create a system using post-it tags to mark poems that I categorized into 'loved', 'liked', 'unsure', and 'though provoking', so that I could refer back to them in the future without needing to go through the entire book again. Looking at the book now that I've completed it I can say that there's probably around thirty post-its with most of them meaning 'loved' or 'liked', so obviously there were some things that I actually enjoyed about the writing. Now here comes the critique...
If I had to give the poems of this book a theme I would definitely say that they're mostly poems of someone who appears to be a hopeless romantic. I understand that there are many people in the world who completely adore this theme, especially those of you who love watching the Hallmark channel on t.v., so in that case this would be a great poetry choice for those people; However, I'm personally not one of those people which is why my opinion is admittedly slightly slanted. I knew before reading that chasers of the light mostly contained love poems, and after all of the amazing things I heard about the writing I was hoping that just maybe Gregson could warm this cold heart of mine, but alas he did not. If anything I did genuinely enjoy the first ten pages or so of this book, but as I progressed through it the poems seemed to get more and more randomized, disconnected, empty, desperate, and sometimes even creepy. Maybe that was his intention, but based on the almost rushed feeling of many of the poems I have a feeling it wasn't. In addition, Gregson tended to use words such as "absent" and "unheld" ("...The absent fingers tracing invisible lines around swollen eyes and stained cheeks...") almost for dramatic flair rather than for emphasis or truth as they were used so often that by halfway through the book each time I read one of these words I discredited the sincerity of the entire poem almost instantaneously.
Finally, the choice of title for this book is puzzling to me. In the introduction Gregson states, " In all I write and in all I say, I am trying to chase the light that I cannot help but see all around me...There will always be light, and I will never stop chasing it." This statement paired with much of the rest of the introduction led me to believe that many of these poems would be about the optimistic and everlasting adventure of self-discovery (as supported by the final poem of the book which ends with the phrase, "We, are the chasers of the light.") rather than a tale of gained, lost, dwindling, erotic, and censored love between multiple "lovers". Perhaps he should've titled the book something more suited to its contents such as Desperate for Love, Hopeless Romantic, or I like to use the words 'Absent' and 'Unheld' too Much.
Overall, chasers of the light is definitely a high recommendation from me for those of you who are seeking to fill a void in your hopeless romantic heart, but for those of you who tend to prize your independent self over fully-absorbed, deep-loving relationships then I would advise you to put this one back on the shelf. I intend to read another work of Gregson titled Wildly into the Dark, this time I'm making sure that I keep my premature excitement in check, and hopefully the poems better relate to the title and read more sincerely.
Overall Rating: 5/10