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The World:  poetic connections
By Janet Carr Hull
Coastal Villages Press, 2004
Trade Paper:  $14.95 (107 pages)
ISBN: 1-882943-22-8

Some poets are determined to do things differently. That’s a good thing. Consider what poetry lovers might have missed had the poet Horace not decided to employ the use of Greek meter, or had Emily Dickinson decided to take the slant out of her rhymes.

As poetry continues to work its way back into the mainstream, the strongest poets tend to develop a personal style, or aesthetic. These same poets, rather than go for formula-style free or formal verse, employ any device that seems right for the poem.  

Janet Carr Hull demonstrates her own unique voice and tendency to employ whatever device fits the trope in her first collection The World: poetic connections. Definitely a collection with a formal bent, in that rhyme and meter are unabashedly apparent, Hull’s poems build a sense of place created entirely by the poet for the pleasure of the reader. 

Like many formalist poets, she insists on capping the first word in each line, a practice that has re-gained popularity in recent years, one that is an almost silent footnote declaring that this poet will never attenuate the value of the line. Often there is delight in a line so memorable that it echoes long after the book is closed. For instance, in the poem “Little Sister”(pg.22), there is a line that can almost stand alone as a poem unto itself, “Deep regret is my dry riverbed, a place I did not want to go…” 

The poems in this collection share a commonality of lyricism, with a song-like quality embedded in accessible poetry that many readers will enjoy. Many of the poems are confessional, but without the sense that ego dominates content. One poem, “The Oddball,” will resonate with many women. The speaker in the poem is having lunch with the “lively rich,” a group whose talk runs the gamut of banal, whose chatter “balked at all thighs.”  The final stanza says it all:

“Though the world is much kinder/
To those who are thin/
There blossoms a goddess/
Beneath my thick skin.”

Author’s Notes at the back of the book provide reflections and additional input from the poet. Ms. Hull seems to take a Billy Collins approach that whatever assists the reader in finding pleasure in this work is a good thing. Janet Carr Hull’s first collection is full of promise; certainly there will be great pleasure for readers in future poems to come.


Kay Day
Southern Scribe Reviews


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