Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Poet Julia Stein gets Murrayed.

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."--Elmore Leonard

But in the world of poetry, some people (particularly reviewers who wish to culturally shape their communities) prefer writing that sounds like writing.

Here are two excerpts from G. Murray Thomas' review of Julia Stein's book WHAT WERE THEY LIKE?

But too often the poems acquire their power through flat statements, rather than poetic language. This is especially true in the final lines with which she closes many of her poems. Too often they end with a line which punches the gut without engaging the imagination. “A cruise missile left her/ paralyzed on half of her body.” (“I Wanted to Believe”); “I ask Congress to stop the destruction of this city.” (“Do I look like a Sumerian goddess”); “she wants to send money to stop the war” (“My Mama Remembers”).

What Were They Like? delivers a powerful anti-war message. Stein succeeds in her goal of showing the lives of average people swept up in the horror of war. But I’m sad to say it rarely rises to the level of great poetry in the process. Regular readers of my reviews know I like my poetry open-ended. I like to discover meaning in the poems I read, not be slapped in the face with it. Poetry is such a perfect format for expressing ambiguity that, to be honest, I feel cheated when a poet does less with it.

The full review can be read at

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