A review of Poems from the Garage by Allen J. Kourofsky
Poems from the Garage
By Allen J. Kourofsky
Printed by Write One Plus, Chateaugay, NY
Finding a self-published book of poetry that isn’t full of sentimental rhymes or dystopian angst is a rarity. Finding one that has fine poetry, actual fresh and original poetry, is nearly impossible. But this book by a fellow from a small town in the northern Adirondack Mountains proves that it can happen.
Poems from the Garage is a collection of fifty poems, titled by first lines. They are observations and memories, notes on people and places, and some philosophical musings. Most of the subjects aren’t remarkable. What makes these poems resonate is the language used, the direct phrasing, the music of the lines and the clarity of the imagery.
Mr. Kourofsky’s poems are free verse with varying line lengths and structures. His opening poem “In Maggie’s back yard” consists of four stanzas without punctuation. Maggie’s age is never mentioned. She has a garden which she tends, she feeds birds, she waits, she dies. The rhythm of this poem is clock-like, a steady thing that doesn’t stop even as the woman leaves this earth.
The fifth poem opens with an interesting way of describing day’s end:
The day drew back its light
pulled it behind the mountain
the now cool breeze
was surprised by a warm gust
Images like this provide surprises throughout the collection. A poem about meeting a cat in a restaurant grabs the reader with its rhythm, reminiscent of poems from the Beat era, mixed with a whimsical interlude provided by a Mariachi band and then some imagined conversation with the cat. It’s a particularly well-crafted and imaginative poem that sounds spontaneous as it unfolds with a sense of purpose.
“Old is the man
of skull hairs
and bones dressed in yesterdays”
begins a poem about aging. This poem is only thirteen lines but it has several striking phrases, striking for both sound and image. “spit that moved with the mumbles and moans”,” play the music/ see the old man, watching the young man dance”
The poem on page 39 opens with “Love is an interesting animal/schizophrenic” and continues by examining, in just a few words, the darker powers held within this emotion. As brief as the poem may be, it still manages to contain ideas and images strong enough to prompt much reflection.
Poems about nature also find their place in this collection. None of these poems ramble on or regurgitate clichés, which is what often happens when a poet decides to add a few nature poems to a book. Instead, we read: “Morning colors flowed/ covered the mountain/ stained the lake” or “summer lies curled and twisted/thrown from its moment/blown from its promise” or “and all the world/ was stuffed into the belly of the night.” Strong, fresh images bring the poet’s entire collection to life, including his nature poems.
The emotion in this collection is understated but available. Regret and remembrance, love and quiet anguish, a bit of anger and a touch of fear all find their place as the poems move from subject to subject. It is a book well worth exploring, even though it lacks an academic or traditional publisher’s imprimatur. Check it out.
James Bourey is an old poet who divides his time between the northern Adirondack Mountains and Dover, DE. His chapbook Silence, Interrupted was published in 2015 by the Broadkill River Press and won first place for poetry chapbook in the Delaware Press Association writing competition. His work has appeared in Mojave River Review, Stillwater Review, Blue Nib, Paddock Review, Broadkill Review and other journals and anthologies. He is also a regular contributor of book reviews for the Broadkill Review. He has been an adjudicator for Delaware Poetry Out Loud and can often be found reading aloud in dark rooms.