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Book Review by James Bourey: Jane Ebihara's A Reminder of Hunger and Wings

By Jane Ebihara

Finishing Line Press 2019

Poetry chapbooks seem to be everywhere these days. While many of these little collections have an engaging, notable poem or two it is the rare exception that is fully loaded with pieces that resonate, that have the stick in your head quality of fine poetry. This little book from a northern New Jersey poet is one of those exceptions.

Jane Ebihara has assembled a quiet, reflective group of poems. They tell of a journey of grief –but never seem maudlin. They reflect on a life grounded in love - but never stray into sticky sentimentality. And these poems are not without humor, a leavening for the serious work of difficult recollections.

This poet pays attention. She pays attention to her surroundings in poems like "The Milk House" as she recalls the lonely playtime of a six-year-old child;

I moved in I was six

apple crate cupboard terry towel on the window

rag rug to cover the cold cement

And these lines from "Night Walk";

where the wild turkey’s strut delighted

tail fanned flamed

Throughout the collection we find details gained through careful observation. We also see a dedicated attention to craft, craft that adds a steady stream of lines layered with meaning and music. The final stanza of Listening to Distant Thunder concludes a fresh view of a sustained metaphor;

storms are like that

picking things up

putting them down

where they don’t belong

These poems are about familiar, time-worn subjects. But Ms. Ebihara knows how to go at them from her own “slant” perspective. She digs deep into grief and painful loss. She elevates hope and reminds without preaching. She offers "The Poet Watches A Spider", an ars poetica that morphs into something like a prayer, though there is no self-righteous ring or feeling that this device has been overused.

And that’s the way this book works so well. It has the feel of the familiar but it doesn’t lean too heavily on what has already been done. The author knows her voice. She brings that, along with clarity and honesty to every poem in the collection. For its thoughtfulness, stillness and skillfulness I recommend this little book.

Jim 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.


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