I want to start out by saying I’m a fan [of Leonard Cohen]. I absolutely loved Book of Longing (although to be completely honest, I had to read it a second time to realize that I loved it) as well as Let Us Compare Mythologies.
This book didn’t touch me the way those other two books did. Deep down, maybe I’m a romantic, and I’m primarily attracted to the sensual aspects of Cohen’s poetry, something that is largely missing from this book, at least in the way it’s found in those other two books. And, it’s also possible that when I come back for a second reading of Book of Mercy in a few months (something I’ve learned to make a practice of doing with poetry [even though this isn’t exactly poetry – he called it a book of prayer in one interview that I listened to]).
So for now, I have to be honest and give a rating of 3/5, even though I am reserving the right to stew on it for a while, re-read the book, and change my rating.
Final say: 3/5 Stars. I’ll say I can take it or leave it.
Book of Mercy
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (March 2, 2010)
It’s hard not to love Langston Hughes. This was Hughes’s first published book of poetry; he was only twenty-four years-old at the time, all the way back in 1926.
I don’t think I could even begin to narrow down a single favorite from this collection, but Sea Calm does stand out to me in it’s simplicity and it’s implication:
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
To be so still that way.
Final say: 5/5 Stars. Read it! A bunch of times!
The Weary Blues
Hardcover: 128 Pages
Publisher Knopf; Revised ed. (February 10, 2015)
Allen Ginsberg is truly a master of language. I actually think he’s a legitimate genius with respect to developing a landscape with his words. Reading this book transports you to a San Fransisco alley, sitting with Ginsberg and his friends, talking of overthrowing the government, smoking weed, and having illicit sex.
Much has been made (in some of the reviews I’ve read) about the language Ginsberg utilizes, and I can sympathize. It can be relatively shocking, especially if you’re not prepared to see it in poetry. I can remember being shocked by Ginsebrg’s language when I read one of his poems for the first time in American Literature class. Back then it put me off, and to be honest, I half-expected to be put off by it again this time, several years later. But I think since I was prepared for it this time, I saw it for what it was, an expressive use of language that fits the character of the narrative. It’s not like it’s a poem about daffodils and sparrows. It’s a poem about a generation of pot smokers, communists and poets.
Final say: 5/5 Stars. Absolutely read it, unless you’re sensitive to adult language, as I have seen that some people are put off by that.
Paperback: 57 pages
Publisher: City Lights Publishers; Reissue edition (January 1, 2001)
Thanks for reading! If you are so inclined, go pick up my book (available on Kindle or paperback) at Amazon. It’s called “Jamey Jones and the Sons of Noah.” It’s a fun science fiction book about a group of teenagers living on a planet called Kepler 438b. It’s seventy pages long, inexpensive, and it’s kinda good, even if I say so myself.