A debut collection of contemporary verse that addresses classical themes using pastoral, celestial and devotional modes of writing.
Jorgental’s collection is broken into short sections titled “Reunion and Sympathy,” “Overture,” “Behavioral Science” and “Nature Deity.” The strongest of these is the last, in which Jorgental finds a looser, more conversational voice. In “Moon,” she writes cleverly of that most overused of images: “There has to be a pickup line there somewhere.” The poems’ strongest, but unfortunately underused, attributes are simplicity and humor: “Placated,” probably the most free, pleasant poem in the collection, ends: “So here’s a bean, a clean sink / several tidy faces, / and a prize mouse the cat just dragged in.” At such moments, the poems telescope in on a natural, even banal world and suddenly turn it on its side with a new way of seeing. Unfortunately, many of the poems meander in stilted abstraction that distracts from these particulars: “Know you not that greater worth / cannot be found in guise?” The author often deploys hard end rhymes, which sometimes force awkward syntax and emphasize the poems’ lack of grounding. For example, in “Lyrical,” a muse/lover is described as follows: “Held to your chest, gazed in your eyes / princely and polished to fill me with sighs.” This is poetry for poetry’s sake, and the book bottoms out in its attempts at ars poetica, which reveal nothing more than a lack of topic: “Lines travel a great distance / for what they need to do / They get caught up in carriers / but rarely make trips to the zoo.”
A collection with some genuine moments of poetic simplicity, overwhelmed by vague abstractions and awkward construction.