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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review of Surrender When Leaving Coach by Joel Lewis

Some poets sing. Some paint images. Some invoke spiritual or philosophical vibrations to carry the mood. Joel Lewis does none of these arty things. Yet Lewis somehow makes poetry happen. His poems emerge from a background of dissonance and human density, like quartz or obsidian out of craggy rock. Lewis creates his context of noise from mass transit vehicles: bus, train, shuttle, and ferry. The noise of these vehicles includes conversation snippets of passengers, storefront sights, quotes from books, jokes, famous and anonymous people, and much more.  What rises to the level of poetry will often depend on the reader and his or her sensitivities. In his poem, Walking Main Street, Hackensack Lewis recalls 1988,

… buses idling against the Transfer Station platform.

A thick goodbye to old Hackensack Saturdays

with farmers swarming off up-country’s

Susquehanna trains—those Wortendyke Dutch

and moody Paramus celery ranchers have left their progeny

a vast Mall to inhabit…

Twenty years later the poet returns by bus and finds most stores of his youth are gone, but his favorite hamburger joint still there, offering some stability in his fast moving universe,

“Is Prozy’s Army and navy open?”


What about Womrath’s Books?”

“Gone for years.”

“How about White Manna?”

“Some people say Hackensack

should shut down if

‘ the Manna’ closes.”

Well ‘the Manna’ is not closed and Lewis enjoys his comforting potato flour hamburger rolls and the oniony meat before getting back on the bus. Lewis’ vehicles not only transport his reader across town, but also across time.
For more of my review of Surrender When Leaving Coach go here: http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2012/06/surrender-when-leaving-coach-by-joel.html

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