What is Comprehending Forever? Is it sitting in a low lit venue by the bar while cracking the spine of poems in the middle of a book release party? Or is it the drowning that occurs while doing so, reluctantly putting the book down even though the poet is about to read a selection from the book? Perhaps, but it is also the title of Rich Villar's first book of poetry.
I've heard and seen Rich's name around the internet, knowing that he was kind of a big deal. I barely have had the chance to be exposed to his work, but trusting the greater community on the internet and my friend Annette, who asked me to tag along with her to his book release at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, I was curious and eager to see what he was about for myself.
Published by Willow Books, the literary imprint of Aquarius Press, Comprehending Forever is a book of love poems that pushes you through the phases of beauty, worship, and grief. You see Rich's dedication to his beloved, his craft, and loss that resonates through finding solace in another being through this landscape of words. I have not been moved by a set of love poems by a male poet within or close to my generation in a long time. You can easily fall in love with Rich's spirit through reading this body of work. I have read love poems by men in the recent years, but not in this abundance with the high level openness and craftsmanship that Rich possesses.
When I purchase a book, as I did at his release, I usually flip through the pages as a preview and then am able to put it away till later. I was so intrigued by his work that I started to read it at the release while sitting at the bar. Even when he was about to read from the book, I was reluctant to stop because I was so caught up in the beauty of it. I continued it this morning and closed the book with great content.
As for his book release party, that was great! It was filled with love and support from his family, friends, and peers. Martin Espada, Eduardo Arocho, Vallerie Matos, Lauren Schmidt, Lynne Procope and Thomas Fucaloro all performed before Rich took over the mic and read from Comprehending Forever. It was a great night of poetry and it's definitely one of the nights that any poet who reaches this point looks forward to.
Here is a snipplet of his reading from the release (and I mean snipplet because this was Instagram'd). To purchase the book, go to the Willow Books online store.