Pure Product

Pure Product

By Bert Almon

A review of Pure Product by Jason Guriel

Published on October 1, 2009

Pure Product
Jason Guriel

Vehicule Press
$16
paper
50pp
978-1-55065-254-3

Jason Guriel draws the title of his book from a celebrated poem by William Carlos Williams, who lamented the human wastage in American life in a poem beginning “The pure products of America / go crazy, a lament for a woman called ‘some Elsie’.” But perhaps there is a little too much nail cleaning and not enough of the old woman in Guriel’s poems: he has a tendency toward whimsy. He writes inconsequential poems about abbreviations (“I.e.,” “E.g.,” “Etc.”), and a short poem about “The Long Poem.” Many of the poems are self-consciously about writing and style without quite achieving the epigrammatic brilliance of a Ben Jonson or J. V. Cunningham. The “Five Sonnets for Summer Storage in the High School Book Room” are mannered and perfunctory (rhyming “prick” and “anemic” in a final couplet is off-key).

But two poems are unforgettable. “For a Neighbour” commemorates an elderly ex-neighbour by describing what new owners have done to his decrepit house. It is a traditional trope to use house as a metaphor for its inhabitant, but the device doesn’t seem trite here. “Upright in Bed” describes a father interlacing his good hand with the one disabled by a stroke. “Only half of him has a say in the matter.” The blood clot has both severed and not severed the man’s arm: Guriel creates a set of paradoxes to convey the frustration when a body is half-present and half-missing. The poem is clever but clever for a purpose and the result is deeply moving. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.

Comments

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More Reviews

Scenes from the Underground

Scenes from the Underground

Gabriel Cholette’s debut memoir offers a dip into queer nightlife, the modern world of dating, and the many vices ...

By Ashley Fish-Robertson

We Have Never Lived on Earth

We Have Never Lived on Earth

The small, precisely rendered moments are what make Kasia Von Shaik's stories resonant, familiar, and refreshing.

By Danielle Barkley

July Underwater

July Underwater

Zoe Maeve's July Underwater is an exploration of nostalgia, loss, discovery, and growing up.

By Jack Ruttan