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Review of Richard Jackson’s Resonance

September 16, 2010

Review of Richard Jackson’s Resonance, published by the Ashland Poetry Press in January 2010.  Thank you, Ryan Johnson, for your insights!

Richard Jackson’s Resonance is a book that ignites our intellectual and emotional capacities.  Jackson reaches his hand into the depths of the human being and offers us his findings.  The book is ripe with philosophical inquiries, emotional investigations and self evaluations. 

 A writing professor of mine once asked, “Is it possible to write anything original or new about the moon or the stars?”  Many of us answered that it is very difficult to write about the moon or the stars without being victim to cliché. In Resonance, Jackson is very much concerned about the universe and our place in it.  He goes to great lengths to suggest meanings as to how we connect with this universe. And he skillfully uses the overused Moon and Stars at his advantage: he deconstructs them and repeatedly redefines them in exciting ways.

 In his poem, “Letter While Driving Towards the Apocalypse” he writes:

                                                                                …That was

            not a wrong turn.  I know exactly where I’m going. But

            it’s the end of the world for them.  Above them are

            sharp shooters disguised as stars.  The shelled trees rise

            like spires.  The moon seems trapped between cypress trees.

            These images fall like loaded dice. (92)

Each poem is an existential journey.  The structure of these poems are largely in prose paragraph form.  This is a wise choice because it allows the poems to shoot off into new places at an instant.  He can go off into vast tangents but at the same time stay connected with the underlying theme of the book. 

One could go far enough and say that this book is about Love.  Love of all kinds.  And Love is a complicated thing: it can bring happiness and suffering.  Jackson wrestles with this duality throughout the book. In his poem “Night Sky”:

            Sometimes we have to hold hands with our own nightmares.

            When I tell you that the voice of a nightingale turns dark

            you have to understand what this love is trying to overcome,

            you have to know that if you ever leave, if you ever disappear,

            the sky would rip, and the stars would lose their way.

Further, in “Write Your Name in the Space Provided”:

                                                              …Every love is terrifying.

            It’s always a savage solar storm that creates the Northern Lights.

            But today, today opens like a wound, and you are there.

            And you would be wrong to think that when I reach

            inside you I do not find the petals of your soul.  You would be

            wrong to think I wouldn’t die for you on any given day.

            Resonance creates its own universe and Jackson begs us to use the heart as a telescope in order to see into it.  This book is an emotive force; it is not simply reading a book of poetry, it’s feeling a book of poetry.  Jackson isn’t afraid to reveal the terror of being human, rather, he embraces it.  He embraces it in order to strengthen his love, not only for the universe and his fellow man, but for the written word.

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