Monday, September 22, 2008
Whispers Poems by Jonathan Russell
by Jonathan Russell
Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC
Hardbound, ISBN 1-931807-70-1, ISBN 13: 978-1-931807-70-8
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
Here is a book with a different use of language and, perhaps, an over-the-top way of presenting images. Take, for example, Ghost Ship, which opens:
Our telescopes we focus on a very strange
ship distantly ghosting veils of mist
- her ratlin’s spider’s webs to towering masts,
their crows’ next thread.
In a number of his poems Russell succeeds in projecting the energy and movement. However, a poem must also be something the reader can experience for himself or herself and that is the level to which Russell is less successful—at least on the written page. Instead of reading this book I might be better off hearing Russell read his work. Reading this is a bit like being handed words to a song, but never knowing the tune.
So let me say what I like. It is 169 pages of poetry, which is big enough. You don’t get short changed on the number of poems. And there is a theme to these poems.
What I don't like about the book, starting with the almost religious cover of flower and water and quote: Shuffling through the Fall of sleep/fond dreams begin to whisper.
Poetry has always been subjective. You submit poems to Magazine A and get rejected. Send the same poem to Magazine B and voila! It’s accepted. So it is possible that while I am not a fan of this book, others will be. That’s what makes poetry so diverse – there’s always something for someone in almost every book of poetry.
Russell, by the way, is an Englishman who has become a U.S. citizen. He holds an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the London Institute for Applied Research and Docteur des Lettres, Pyschologie et Litterature, from the Academie Des Sciences Humaines Universelles in Paris. He is an Honorary Professor Humanities at the Institute of Higher Economic and Social Studies in Brussels, Belgium and was chosen “International Literary Man of the Year for Se rvices to Poetry by the International Biographical Center of Cambridge (England). In 1998 and 1999 he received the grand prize from the American Poetry Association and has been admitted to the Academy of American Poets.