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Jacquelyn Davis

Reviews

Trees of the Twentieth Century

Trees of the Twentieth Century
by Stephen Sturgeon
Dark Sky Books, 2011
62 pages / $10  Buy from Dark Sky or Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sometimes confessing to an invisible audience, sometimes to the poet himself, the impressive poetic debut Trees of the Twentieth Century consists of approximately thirty poems and communicates that which usurps prepackaged explanations yet desires to be heard using the human voice. What is experienced with the five senses—what makes us human—takes priority. This collection excels when read aloud, whether or not this was Stephen Sturgeon’s intention. The  intelligent search for meaning periodically surfaces, alongside themes of passing time, shuffling memories, the malaise of adulthood, desperation, the recurring realization of injustice and impending reality of temporal forces at play. Sturgeon is generous in sharing his philosophical inquiries, thoughtfully embedded stanza by stanza:

      What does it mean when things
present themselves; it means, it means that we
have seen them; that’s over. That’s over. (13)

Simplicity, associated with purity and grace, is a skill which many lack. Few have cultivated the patience of our ancestors—for better or worse. When something presents itself, it is often in one’s best interest to take the said object or situation at face value, despite a tendency to complicate, mask or layer, ranging from intention to the natural course of events. If it barks like a dog, it’s probably a dog—a hard lesson. The poet unearths such authentic perspectives, even if they are frequently singular to his own trajectory, hence the recurring presence of the “I” pronoun:

In the beginning I was happier.
The rocks spun. So close the air was to my face
I sparely breathed. (16)

Or:

Enemies, by chance, were my only peers.
I watched them, from on a hill, at its top,
thinking, everything falls down that will come up. (16)

Or:

      Once more
I consider the pedigree of time,
and see no puzzle to its address. (30)

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10 Comments
July 23rd, 2012 / 12:00 pm

Reviews

On The Guilt Project: Rape Morality and Law & Tragodía 1: Statement of Facts by Vanessa Place

The Guilt Project
by Vanessa Place
Other Press, 2010
336 pages / $25  Buy from Amazon

&

Tragodía 1: Statement of Facts
by Vanessa Place
Blanc Press, 2010
430 pages / $45 (HB), $25 (PB)  Buy from Blanc Press

 

 

 

Among the individuals in Los Angeles who are responding to heavyweight issues exists an  uncanny force: Vanessa Place. A criminal defense attorney, she defends what some categorize as the lost, the wretched: indigent criminals, repeat sex offenders and violent predators. Some criminals learn valuable lessons while incarcerated; others leave prison refueled, angry and ready to re-enter what’s left of the world as a less worthy version of themselves, less interested in following pre-ordained rules. This is where Place steps in: the blurry space between offense and re-offense, perpetrator and victim, right and wrong, ethics and morality. Place explains, “I work as a combination street sweeper and factory worker. I follow what’s gone before, mopping up after the bloody mess, squaring the legal corners, assembling the lives disassembled by tragedy, and reducing reams of paper to bite-sized pellets.”(p.2)

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8 Comments
August 8th, 2011 / 12:00 pm