The author of Beautiful Day and Won’t Be Long, two recent books from Deerbrook Editions, has several poems in Poetry Atlas. Poetry Atlas is mapping the world in poetry. We collect and map all poems about places, whether by great poets, or by you.
Hemingway’s House, Key West
They wanted the tour they said
to be “a positive experience.”
So they don’t say how he died,
the muzzle of the shotgun
in his mouth, his brains all over
the walls of the house in Ketchum.
The cats are descended from his.
They are everywhere.
Many have six toes.
One night he got drunk, brought home
a urinal from Sloppy Joe’s
and made a water trough for them.
The best part is the studio.
That it isn’t in the house.
That it’s in the guesthouse where he’d go
to write The Green Hills
of Africa and A Farewell to Arms
and For Whom the Bell Tolls,
standing there beneath
the glass-eyed gaze of the antelope,
the eraser of the pencil in his teeth.
Beautiful Day by JR Solonche has delight and sorrow insights and more.
This is honestly one of the best and most enjoyable books of poetry I’ve ever read.
As someone who cut his teeth on “eastern” verse, I’m no stranger to shorter poems. I’ve often heard it said that less time on stage means less can go wrong, i.e. shorter poems are somehow easier to write–an idea that I’ve always found ridiculous. With shorter poetry, there’s actually a lot more riding on every word, every syllable. But J.R. Solonche is more than up to the challenge. In this book, Solonche is sharing a lifetime of wit and experience, a whole library of bittersweet moments and insights–and all of it, free of pretension.
I can’t stress this enough: this is honestly one of the best and most enjoyable books of poetry I’ve ever read, and I’ve read thousands. This is also the rare sort of book that you could hand either to a factory worker or a gilded academic and both would be left speechless. The playfulness, humor, and accessibility of these poems blend so perfectly with the underlying brilliance and craft that these poems seem effortless, though they’re anything but. As I was reading this, I kept asking myself, “How is this poem NOT being taught in classrooms all around the world? And what about that one? And this one? And that one?!”
I used to teach a class on Zen poetry, where we frequently read stuff by the ancient Chinese poets, as well as contemporaries like Billy Collins, Kenneth Rexroth, etc. I wish I were still teaching that class because I can guarantee that this book would be a class favorite. It’s certainly a favorite of mine.
Descent & Other Poems listed on Australian Book Review 2016 Books of the Year. On the ABR Website, if you scroll down about 3/4 of the way to Felicity Plunkett’s section, Timothy Ogene’s book is mentioned, with a link to the press blog: Nigerian-born Timothy Ogene’s Descent and Other Poems examines love, doubt, solitude and migration in attentive, luminous poems. Thank you Felicity Plunkett! Descent & Other Poems is available on the site with free shipping in the US.
Other news: titles on the way for 2017. At this link three forthcoming titles and endorsements appear. The titles are: Combed by Crows by Dennis Camire; Kafka’s Shadow by Judith Skillman; Never Completely Awake by Martina R. Newberry.
The Ozymandias Effect, poetry by Martina R. Newberry
This poem is from the forthcoming new title Never Completely Awake, by Martina Reisz Newberry, due out in 2017 from Deerbrook Editions.
Read noteworthy endorsements for Martina’s books here on her site.