From the archives: Poetry book criticism of Robert P. Craig’s “All that comes, goes”.



ROBERT P. CRAIG – All That Comes, Goes: a mind-blowing work of genius.
(Published by, 2007, ISBN 978-81-8253-088-1, 48 pages, paperback, US$10)

All That Comes, Goes is (in my opinion) a mind-blowing work of genius. Robert P. Craig has possibly created an entirely new genre in short literature. Through a succession of narratives, which can be experienced as either being connected or disconnected, the narrator (the observer) and the protagonist (“she”) dispassionately recount the more or less mundane circumstances and surroundings in a way that both tells a story … and does not. Every observation and – dare I say – “non-eventful event” seems to have equal weight. And yet, the passivity of the texts creates an engaging and somewhat existential sense of floating in the reader … a space where both being and not being are purely a question of personal experience and where the individual creates his/her own reality. After a short while, I began to experience confluence in regards to who was actually “she”, and who was (in fact) the narrator.

I find the work rather disarming, and reading it brought back associations to passions from my early adulthood years: theatre productions by Robert Wilson, performances by Meredith Monk, reading Jean Paul-Sartre … and psychedelic drug trips where the utmost attention was given to minute details, slowing down time and exaggerating the significance of each observation. However, the real fun of reading this book is when the reader stops looking for stories, and discovers how well crafted the individual lines are.

This is a book that must certainly have many a reader offering his/her interpretations and speculations about the author’s intent. All are possibly equally correct and incorrect. This is not an intelligence test, but it is a mind-twister.

I would like to present two passages from All That Comes, Goes as an illustration:

was a very quiet place, considering
its position, and perfectly suited to
her needs. It lay several hundred
yards from the small train station,
near a terrace of elderly mansions
cut off from the main avenue by a
line of plane trees and a parking
patch. The traffic roared past all
night. But the inside, though it
was a fire-bowl of clashing
wallpapers and copper lampshades,
was a place of extraordinary calm.
Not only was there nothing going on
there, but there was nothing going
on in the world, either.

It was afternoon.
One of winter’s periodic downpours
had begun.
It turned the city’s cobbled alleys
into minor watercourses,
its flat roofs into miniature lakes.
The sky and the sea, both usually
the color of blazing blue,
assumed a dull and uniform grey.
Even the lofty city walls had lost
their proud, golden hue.
Melancholy, as well as clouds,
had settled upon the town.

I rarely say this in a book review, but I will say it now: ‘Buy this book! Especially if you have been telling yourself that you really do not like poetry.’

– Literary criticism (2008) by Adam Donaldson Powell (based upon “All That Comes, Goes”, published by, 2007, ISBN 978-81-8253-088-1, 48 pages, paperback, US$10)

ROBERT P. CRAIG (USA) has written two books of poetry, and has authored and edited several non-fiction books and articles. He is a Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D) at San Jacinto College.

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