Wednesday, June 12, 2013

City of Possibilities by Jane Williams

City of Possibilities
by Jane Williams
Interactive Press
Carindale, Queensland, Australia
Copyright © 2011 by Jane Williams
ISBN 9781921869105
73 pages, softbound, no price given

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

The best way to explain the poetry of Jane Williams is to
present On entering the city of possibilities:

Cry a little. People expect it. It will show you are happy
to be there.
Reach out; touch all you can before it’s frowned upon,
before you are accused of appropriation
(any imprint you leave will have some historical value).
Learn the language. Learn how to speak it with your eyes,
with your hands. Lose your accent incrementally –
too slow and you’re not trying hard enough,
too fast and who do you think you are?
Experiment with suspension of disbelief as if
any city could be city of possibilities.
Don’t forget to breathe.
Sear for meaning. Briefly. It’s not worth the grief.
Turn your longing for something more into art,
into the opposite of neutral territory.
Fall apart. Pull yourself together. Fall apart. Don’t make
a habit of it.
Break all the rules but not all at once.
Remember you are just visiting. Try not to get too attached.
When you’re ready, come home. I’ve left a light burning
in the ruins.

The poem sums up a life or a divorce. A child gone off to live with someone or maybe just a temporary separation. It could be a poem of self-blame or a poem of realization or
even a memoir like tale.

Then there is Portal, a poem of which most people have probably experienced at one time or another:

A day in bed scribbling and surfing the net, looking out
through six panes of dirt-flecked glass. Like my mother I
need a window to wake to. The day is cloud-heavy but the

sun doles itself out in intense bursts, highlighting the blood
red roof of the house opposite. In the distance the rhythmic
thwack of our neighbour’s axe splitting firewood. Closer to
home a child’s superior weekend whine – insistent, defiant,
so sure of its place in the world. That was me I think,
decades ago, looking at the same sky, calling myself into

googling my name still I can’t find myself

There are many more insightful, revealing and ultimately truth poems in this volume of poetry by Jane Williams, her fourth collection. She has received numerous awards in both Australia and New Zealand, where she now resides.

Many of the poems have first lines that seem to bear no relation to the title, for example:

Introduction to origami

The passenger from bus 42
reads like a who’s who
of the wrong side of town.

Living things

in a mood so absent
it could have been
the subject
of a post modern
still-life painting…

Levels of incapacity

it seems only yesterday
he was free loving his way
around a world open to
suggestion his suggestion

I found this book interesting not only because it is from “down under” but because it does not have the pretentiousness that many American poets seem to have. It is also a thinking person’s read.
Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle and Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8

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