Sunday, December 02, 2007

Confessions: Selected and Edited by Lynn Clague

Confessions: Selected and Edited
By Lynn Clague
ISBN 978-097953133-0
41 pages at $10 paperback
Ibbetson Street Press
25 School Street
Somerville MA 02143

Clague’s Confessions is a delicious six-course feast. As a poet, he’s approachable; readers can relate to Clague and the life experience he shares. As a man, he’s vulnerable, humorous, and self-effacing. As a reader and reviewer who enjoys poetry, I found the combination of humor and vulnerability to be delightful.

Clague admits in the introduction to being “distant, cool, thinkerish” at times, but in the section titled “Love” he shares this telling self-description:

My most endearing quality is sincerity.
I am tender as a baby’s bottom,
lyrical as a loon.

This excerpt from “Growing Up” describes a typical extended happy hour at home. In this section, Clague details life with his parents and their quest for gracious living, their careers and foibles, and hints at the facades we create to survive:

Occasional contretemps
(pardon my French)
drifted into the post-hour hours
if maybe Dad had one too many
or Mom, tacking like a schooner
in a gale, nagged him ragged,
but the disaster behind the fa├žade
occurred only decades later.

In the early years of his “Career” he becomes the master of camouflaged compromise and games of pretend. Such games drained him, but he played them nonetheless:

As the years accumulated
and the paths to profits proliferated,
I tempered my grin
like a blade of steel
into measured smiles.

Harsh tolls have been taken from a lifetime of pretense and denial. In “Recovery” comes the sudden insight that changes his life:

Unstruck by lightning,
unvisited by a vision of a burning bush,
I had been changed.

Clague and his Confessions deserve high praise. I cannot do justice to this fine book and Clague’s skill with words in a few excerpts. His poetry must be savored, read and reread, celebrated. This book is highly recommended.

Review by Laurel Johnson---- Laurel Johnson is a reviewer for the Midwest Book Review

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