Niagara Gazette —
He tugged a bit at his salt and pepper colored beard, his trademark of sorts, and thoughtfully described for me how poetry is far more emotional than stories ... and how just a few words can capsulate centuries. Many of his poems detail Niagara’s history, and special attention is paid to the daredevils. Others allow the shades to be pulled back on his own life story, inviting the reader into intimate settings to see where all our psyches converge.
As we made our way through his book, stopping here and there, I was surprised to learn two things. One is there are little stories within each poem. I suppose I’ve always known that. Like poems are just shorter for people who have no time. Some poems are just a few paragraphs. His longest poem, some 65 pages, is called ‘God’ and it examines questions about the meaning of life, woven through man’s centuries of carnage and terror. A history lesson inside a philosopher’s lecture on the silence of God, far reaching and up close at the same time, while noting simply that “all death is personal.” Reading that poem in its entirety the next morning, touched me to my soul.
But, the other surprise is that Baxter, as the poet E.R. Baxter, is more than deeply intense. Inside his poems, he is dire, ironic and sarcastic and droll. In many places, I laughed out loud at the humor I discovered. I’d share it with you, but the swatches I pulled don’t do justice out of context. So, let me borrow a few words from my poetry lesson when I asked him what one line meant and he said — now his turn to be a little affronted — that I should try to figure it out for myself. “You have to bring something to it,” he said firmly.