14
Jan
13

Jon Woodward’s Rain (2006)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 8/9, which was published circa April 2007.

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Jon Woodward's – RainThe poems in Jon Woodward’s Rain (Wave Books) fall into your lap like a pile of loose index cards, & as well they should since each poem can fit on an index card, if you turn it sideways. These small, untitled poems work because they are brief thoughts/reflections/memories that reflect how the speaker talks to people:

   I have to think up
   things to say ahead of
   time to keep from stuttering
   when I speak it’s the
   only thing that works I’ve
   got a brain full of 
   index cards [...]
                                  (p 32)

So right now you might be thinking that not much is happening other than the display of some anxieties and how to cope with them, but these anxieties will turn into something other:

   got a brain full of
   index cards you’d be appalled
   unfortunately what I memorize is
   obsolete almost immediately the conversation
   veers unforseeably and by the
   time I got on the
   bus it was raining and
   it probably rained on you
   as you walked home and
   I’m sorry about that too
                                            (p 32)

As I mentioned, these poems seem like those index cards, but the reader will not feel sorry for them. Why? Because the awkward line breaks rub up against the sentence’s flow to create a jittery anxiety that reflects the speaker and then translates all the way to the reader. The reader then becomes conscious of what is being read (instead of unconscious, as I tend to prefer), but the result is good because now I/the reader am in the speaker’s realm of being self-conscious, as one can be with anxieties. Surprisingly, though, an odd thing happens by Rain’s end, or a bit before: the reader becomes accustomed to the jarring line break-sentence flow relationship – it’s as if you come to understand/feel the speaker in his life.//

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Woodward, Jon. Rain. Seattle: Wave Books, 2006.//


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