James Bourey reviews Patric Pepper's Everything Pure as Nothing


Everything Pure as Nothing

Patric Pepper

Finishing Line Press 2017, $14.99

Also Available from Amazon

There’s a theme in this collection of twenty-five poems from Patric Pepper. Some books of poetry claiming a theme often disguise it pretty well, or they throw in a few off-theme poems to add emphasis to the themed pieces. Not this author. Pepper sticks to his purpose like fresh snow on an iced over pond. And that’s the theme of this book – snow.

But this is not a one-note song of a collection. The author has scanned his poems from the 1980s through 2015 and plucked out an assemblage that serves up a fine mixture of lyrical, meditative or narrative pieces which use the cold, white stuff as setting or metaphor, sometimes both at once.

The poems are arranged in reverse chronological order. The earliest poems, at the back of the book, lean on rhyme and a touch of cuteness. They’re not bad but they are not nearly as fully developed as Pepper’s more recent work. In fact, this book is a concise example of poetic growth. While the early poems are fun to read, often humorous with clever language, they don’t dig too deeply into the heart of the poet.

Compare these lines: “The stars came down!”

you greet the snow,

in our southern town,

mass vertigo.

From “It’s Snowing in the Nation’s Capital” 1980s.

To these: …how it dampens

the day into a nap day

and folds up life like an ironing board,

clankity-clanks it into the closet

in favor of minor daydreaming.