Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poetry Book Review: Face by Sherman Alexie

Sometimes you get the hiatus, sometimes the hiatus gets you. I hadn't intended to take such a long break from blogging, but life kept getting in the way. I have found some time to read some really good books, though. Like Face by Sherman Alexie.

Alexie has written some high quality short stories and novels, but I find his poems to be just as good. Face is Alexie at his best...humorous, insightful, and creative. And the topics are incredibly wide-ranging--from children to memory to marriage to life on the reservation and more.

In some of the best poems, he combines poetry and prose, almost interrupting himself, like he does in a poem called "Inappropriate."

A lot of the poems fall under the "narrative" category, like "Missed Connections," a poem about mishearing a sentence during an airplane ride. Alexie tells stories just as well in poems as he does in his novels.

I leave you with a poem about fatherhood, "How to Create an Agnostic," which is one of my favorites from the book.

How To Create an Agnostic

Singing with my son,
I clapped my hands
Just as lightning struck.
It was dumb luck.
But my son, awed, thought
I’d created the electricity.
He asked, “Dad, how'd you do that?”
Before I could answer,
thunder shook the house
And set off neighborhood car alarms.
“Dad,” he said. “Can you burn
down that tree outside my window?
The one that looks like a giant owl?”
O, my little disciple, my one boy choir,
I can’t do that
because your father,
your half-assed messiah,
is afraid of fire.
© 2008 Sherman Alexie

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