This week's chapbook is Sonnets by Richard Jones, a beautifully hand-constructed book from the remarkably fine Adastra Press. I bought this book back in the early 90s (it was published in 1990), having accidentally found information on Gary Metras and his press on the internet (this is so much easier to do nowadays that I shudder to recall the hours I spent back then, chasing one dead link after another). The title is somewhat deceptive, as each poem is a deconstruction of what one would usually consider a sonnet (certainly not a new idea, even in 1990), but Jones is more successful, I think, than many others have been at crafting poems with a lingering "sonnet essence" (if you will): unlike, for instance, Gerald Stern's "American sonnets" (which I love), which represent a kind of tightening of the rhetorical reins but which still manage to canter along, I get the distinct sense that these sonnets have gone through careful excisions.
If you haven't checked out Adastra Press, do look them up. Each book is a labor of love.
Here's one poem from the middle of the book:
Knowing our desire for details,
the evening news tells us
how the man died, and even a little
of what he did, his work, and whom he loved.
He worked in an office downtown.
At night he rode the train home.
There’s the point of entry: the broken window.
There, the bed where he was sleeping
just as he left it when he heard the intruder.
The camera hurries through the house
like a reader skimming pages
to the place where his life
is outlined in chalk,
the knife held up to the lights.
Hannah Larrabee, Murmuration
3 days ago