THE AWAKENED HOURS by Robert Jason Dick


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A brief but wide-ranging collection of meditative poetry, The Awakened Hours features a few clunkers but more than a few gems.

In this slim volume of exceedingly readable verse, Dick explores the joy and pain of romantic relationships, the sometimes terrifying power of religion, the struggles of family life and the deep mysteries of existence. As his title indicates, much of his poetry takes place in the transition between sleep and waking–and in the dreamscapes that fill our collective unconscious. Many poets compose lazy, dream-influenced verse to give themselves permission to write imprecisely; dreamy topics–they erroneously believe–allow for dreamy language. To Dick’s credit, his often-dreamy poetry is refreshingly crisp. On the whole, his diction is careful despite the often surreal subject matter, and he clearly respects the poet’s search for exactly the right words. Further, Dick has the power to marshal impressive and colorful imageries to describe his interior landscapes, as in the frightening, post-apocalyptic fugue, “Cataclysm.” Elsewhere, in poems like “Miss Digital World” and “Infected Cookies,” Dick exhibits a healthy suspicion of new Internet technologies that, while promising to bring people together, actually drive us apart. These poems provide a welcome respite from the poet’s more abstract meditations on love, loss and faith, and ground his collection in the contemporary moment. It should be noted that Dick is much more comfortable with free verse than with rhyme, and his verse fails, at times embarrassingly, when he ventures into the latter. Take the laughable couplets of the trite piece, “The Keys to Her”–“What would she do if I cried? / What would she do if I denied?”–or the cumbersome opening lines of “Lost and Found”–which rhymes “address,” “distress,” “kindness” and “openness.” Such pieces of amateurish doggerel are unworthy of a poet of Dick’s obvious potential and threaten the project as a whole. But they do not kill it, and Awakened remains a competent effort.

Uneven but solid verse.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-595-44401-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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