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Somewhere in Ecclesiastes: Poems

Somewhere in Ecclesiastes: Poems

by Judson Mitcham

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this debut collection, Mitcham explores processes of change, particularly ``how things go wrong'' in life, everything susceptible to ``the unbelievable sadness of chance'' and its aftereffects. The thoughtful ``Notes for a Prayer in June'' addresses both the violent changes wrought by a car crash and the more subtle alterations in being that occur as we grow up. Mitcham's poems mediate between the idea of life being ``blessed only by accident'' and a desire to believe in the immortality of the soul, which would ultimately negate the tragedy of chance. The poet writes, ``What if it were true, after all, / that the body is a garment, a light cotton shirt / we will easily do without? / . . . would it alter the funerals of children?'' Ultimately, the poet can come up with no satisfying answers, wondering if ``dreams / were the origin of heaven'' and transcendence is all in our minds. Mitcham writes with considerable skill, and there is an ease about his voice that mitigates, to some extent, the futility and sadness which his poems address. Even if he can shed no new light on the conundrum of existence, his ruminations are always interesting and affecting. (Dec.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This year's Devins Award winner, Mitcham writes ruminative poems that gather power slowly like an oncoming storm, then stab you through the heart with a particularly telling image. Thus, recalling an accident in which he was implicated, he considers how ``I flung you from the world,/ through a windshield.'' On the Otis Redding Bridge, he longs for the singer's affirmative voice as he watches a cotton worker ``not slowed down in the least/ by the momentary beauty that began/ as an old pain deep in her lungs; this woman/ who spits off the bridge and goes on.'' He sums up his confused reaction to his father's death by saying ``euphoria appalled me, joy washed over/my body . . . . The only word I have is love. '' There are no histrionics here, no effort to shock or amuse or seduce; just beautifully realized poetry that uses language as it should be used. Highly recommended for serious poetry readers everywhere.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''

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University of Missouri Press
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