By Sharon Brunner
Kilgore Splake elicits strong imagery about various life situations. “Camp Baraga Ghosts” contains photographs of the old prison that was located in Baraga, Michigan, long closed. The imagination is sparked by the renditions of things past. Splake provides this quote in his introduction: “The old long-abandoned and vandalized Camp Baraga minimum prison inmate work camp is being razed. A crew from Md contractor of Baraga was demolishing buildings at the old camp last week. The tall chain link fence has been taken down, the loops of razor wire carefully removed, and asbestos materials removed and sealed.”
He weaves part of his life in his poetic excerpts. The reader can imagine Splake sitting down to a cup of coffee while exploring new ideas or sitting in a bar with pictures of sports teams and televisions. Being a poet can prove to be lonely sometimes. Looking for the next romantic interlude. The imagination explores what a woman is going through as she looks in a mirror while she applies jewelry pretending to be someone else.
Splake contradicts himself in various stanzas. He describes getting information from the internet and emailing, not writing letters. Destroying creative activities to oil painting canvas and composing new songs. He explores sexual encounters while portraying the need for nothing extra. The poor young woman who gives up her dreams of a college degree to become a cashier at Walmart, hair colored blue, and meaningless relationships. Another couple raises children to earn good money as they have done. Again, contradictions.
He begins the book of poetry with the possible reason a man ended up at the prison. And ends the book with what life may have been like living in the Baraga prison. Grand thoughts of what life could be like living on the outside to the ghosts that remain there. Splake provides an excellent opportunity to spark one’s imagination while exploring the various life situations and learning about Camp Baraga’s ghosts.
Poet: T. Kilgore Splake
Title: Camp Baraga Ghosts