Sarah White is also the author of Wars Don’t Happen Anymore (Deerbrook Editions, 2015) reviewed in American Book Review
This is honestly one of the best and most enjoyable books of poetry I’ve ever read
— Michael Meyerhofer on February 13, 2017
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.
After all the work that goes into a book that we believe is a remarkable book of poems, and it is a group effort, work that I cherish as a designer, and as an editor working with authors, there is nothing finer than to have a review that finds merit in the work. In this case, and even the author commented to me on new meanings found by the reviewer, being appreciated as a designer adds to the drinking in of this review.