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Until Valhalla

Baker, Christopher
The manuscript is a collection of poems about war, PTSD, intergenerational trauma, the daily experience of grief, self-awareness, and hope, which are broken into three sections. The mood and tone of each section builds and adds to the overall narrative of the manuscript with a feeling of descending, roaming, then ascending. The entire collection is haunted by violence: witnessed, enacted, internalized, and acknowledged. Ultimately, the works lead up to the breaking of toxic cycles and ideas, allowing for the beginning of growth and the hope for continual change. The speaker is the same in many of the poems, but there are multiple persona and place poems. Prose poems start each section and frame them with a feeling that the reader is experiencing everything alongside the speaker. Placing the reader is essential for the emotional movement of the manuscript. Each poem does its own work to locate the reader and then to move them. The angle of the speaker as parent provides and amplifies the anxiety, tension, and hope for resolution woven throughout. Reconciliation is a recurring theme. Like the poems named after the condition, Tinnitus hits unexpectedly hard, seemingly out of nowhere, leaving the reader breathless, feeling alive, incited to reflect on the ways they affect the world around them and those who fill it.