REVIEW: ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN – MARK JACKLEY

ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN: Poems Old & New

By Mark Jackley (2016)

 

Last night I read Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, and this morning I’m anxious to bolster its popularity. I really appreciate Jackley’s pace, brevity, confidence and unassuming style.

I read the book in one sitting and that’s important. It means I didn’t get bored, but instead got held in a friendly way, in an intimacy of distance where anything can be said. The poems are short, seemingly simple and usually expansive. There’s lots of white space and I was flipping pages like a champ which was fun. Remember flying through a book of poems that’s just deep enough to keep your critical mind engaged, but just light enough to be relaxing and palliative? Reading ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN was like that for me.

The images are clear and uncluttered; for example, his poem “Happiness” starts here: Sometimes it rises quietly / like water in the basement. I like how he draws our attention to the sound of the water that may soften something / you’ve lugged around for years. Also, what a satisfying defamiliarization of happiness that the first two lines provide. Are you happy when your basement floods? Jackley’s speaker is and that’s refreshing.

John Hartford used to say that style is based on limitations. Jackley is confident enough to cut the pretension from these poems. Isn’t this the type of poetry we need now when elitism is under attack? This kind of verse that invites you in and holds you, and bears witness to a poet on the very edge of a small town?

If you would like your own copy of Mark Jackley’s new poetry collection ON THE EDGE OF A VERY SMALL TOWN, all you have to do is email the author at chineseplums@gmail.com and ask for one.

~

Review by Jim Thompson

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