Book Report: The Face: A Novella in Verse by David St. John (2004)

Book coverThis book calls itself “A Novella In Verse”, but although it’s kind of pitched as a series of poems, they are not as related as one would think. The publication history indicates that many of the 45 poems within appeared in numerous poetry journals independently, and one appeared in an anthology of poems about September 11, 2001. So they’re more related thematically than perhaps intentionally built to convey a single story.

That said, I enjoyed the book for the most part. As you might know, gentle reader, I’ve been reading the complete works of John Keats lately (and have just completed Endymion after a couple weeks), so this book came as a breath of fresh air with its more modern language and imagery.

The connective tissue of the poems, I guess, is growing older and looking back on a relationship that recently ended. It’s the sort of things poets are best at, or perhaps the ones I respond to (my best poetry days were in that swirl of uncertainty).

I rather enjoyed the first half of it for its evocative freshness (which I appreciated after reading the Keats and some of the other chapbooks I consume regularly), but towards the end of it, I got a little bored. An overarching conceit of having a movie made of one’s life didn’t work for me–the use of another art form as a metaphor and the narrative elements of it detracted from the poetry’s immediacy.

But I would read more by this poet and wonder if I would enjoy his earlier work more.