This is a writer in the midst of change—about his thinking about poetry, his writing process, and the world around him. As readers, we’re lucky to witness this live petri dish of mental acrobatics ... it’s nothing short of breathtaking ... For the poet who has written lyric poems with the precision of a needle and thread, this new book feels broader, looser in syntax. We’re still lucky enough, though, to experience the laser-focused eye that Barot is known for ... The prestige of detail is still here but, in The Galleons the reader can also sense that Barot has traveled even farther in his mind. His poems reveal the eye of a painter combined with the mind of a roving archaeologist ... There’s a caginess in the speaker when naming people in this collection, not to subordinate human figures to the particular, but perhaps to articulate that humans span—they are a 'part of something larger,' shards of history ... In every single poem in The Galleons, the reader gets to witness the miraculous movements of the speaker’s mind, as if walking inside a giant grandfather’s clock, following the intricacies of the moving of time, all those gears, cranks, pendulums ... What fortunate readers we are to have a window into Barot’s eye, mind, and soul.
Looking at the past, one is prone to romanticizing it, viewing it through the lens of nostalgia. But Barot’s mindful approach of mixing the long view with the closeup and vice versa tempers this tendency as well as gives evidence of the maturity of his own relationship with recurrent themes—notably, how art/poetry/language may or may not provide logic or consolation for human suffering—carried through his previous books ... The Galleons, rich with somber beauty and insight, concludes that the spinning threads in the vortex of history are after all made by ordinary bodies: they engender complex lineages, loves, wars, sorrows, triumphs, and losses ... Making is thinking, and the catalog of ordinary actions across the centuries is far from prosaic. Great empires were built from them, but who knows how many of such stories were lost like foam somewhere along the way? Rick Barot’s The Galleons carries some of these lovingly back to us.
This ambitious new work...embraces all sorts of transits worldwide ... The result is a quietly assured unwinding of a key aspect of human history ... Important reading, especially for those interested in the issues of colonialism and immigration.