Eva Wong Nava reviews ‘Spirits for Sale’

A review of “Spirits for Sale” by Singapore author and publisher Eva Wong Nava:

Just in time for Halloween, ‘Spirits for Sale,’ a book of Tanka poems by Jordan Trethewey with artwork by Marcel Herms, is a dead giveaway inspired by the supernatural and paranormal artefacts found on sale online. I was spooked by the imagery in many of Trethewey’s poems. Here is a poet that has been profoundly affected by these commodities of the underworld: “a religious bracelet,” “carlotta’s spirit” that “clings to a rare clown doll,” the “lawyer and mistress/ last seen in monmouth county/in the nineteen thirties,” “dollie lived with rae/from xochimilco mexico” who was “displayed hung by her neck.”

Herms’ Art Brut renditions of Trethewey’s words are compelling and make his poetic imageries convincingly, and hair-raisingly, frightening. I’m not one for the paranormal, and I opened Trethewey’s collection with trepidation. Once in, I was hooked by my curiosity of these curios that are exchanged online. Trethewey even includes the price that these items are sold for.

‘kidwitgame18again’ was on sale for a whopping USD $400. This poem tells the story of a genie who lives in a girl’s music box. The girl, who has measles, is eventually found “stone dead on the floor”… “[the] spirit laughs out loud/she did not suffer today/in this world madam/and you failed to specify/how much time she should have left.”

If you like the macabre, the ghoulish, and the spectacular, then this book of poetry and artwork is for you. Happy Halloween.


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