Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mike James: Alternate Endings

Reviewed by: Charles P. Ries

Charles does not know Mike. But can we trust them? Are they hiding something? Do inquiring minds want to know? Do inquiring minds care? Or are inquiring minds still waiting for news on those weapons of mass destruction (you know those weapons--they're called federal electronic voting machines).

As for Charles, if you've read other reviews on this blog, you know this, but if not, it's worth repeating: he lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we have exchanged emails about cheese.

His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over one hundred and sixty print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing, and most recently read his poetry on National Public Radio’s Theme and Variations, a program that is broadcast over seventy NPR affiliates. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory. Ries is also the author of five books of poetry — the most recent entitled, The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press in Tucson, Arizona. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot (www.wordriot.org) and Pass Port Journal (www.passportjournal.org). He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore (www.woodlandpattern.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most recently he has been appointed to the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literati.net/Ries/


Alternate Endings is published by Foothills Publishing, P.O. Box 68
Kanona, New York 14856, www.foothillspublishing.com
Price: $7.00, 32 Pages/ 26 Poems

Alternate Endings is Mike James fifth book of poetry and a nice collection it is. The majority of the 26 poems are thematically rich and well structured; and a few blew me away.

“The Smiling Man: A Children’s Tale” does an eloquent job of telling a complete fable in just 17 lines. I enjoyed its economy of language and image. James also writes a nice batch of message poems. Poems that render a defining and insightful meaning such as “Poem”: “mother called crows / nothing birds // because she did not love them // because she knew / that magic of naming / what she did / note love”.

Another winner is “Homemade Routines”: “i finished the last part of today’s crossword puzzle / by throwing it in the trash // I need to waste some time every day / as surely as I need gossip and sandwiches // this morning i shaved at the sink / instead of in the shower // all day i’ve walked two steps slower then normal // too many days of this and my hair will grow long / I will begin to speak in riddles of broken syntax // too few days of this and not even my shadow / could find me beneath the sun”.

James brings wisdom to the common moment. There were only a few lines in this collection where I felt his work inched a bit too close to sentimentality, but this may be more a matter of my own tastes than any indiscretion on James part.

All in all, a very fine collection of poetry.

1 comment:

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