Monday, March 29, 2010

Book review: Intrinsic Night

Intrinsic Night is a book of cinquains co-authored by two of speculative poetry's rising stars, J.E. Stanley and Joshua Gage. Many (but not all) of the poems are speculative in nature -- some fantasy and horror but a lot of science fiction.

The cinquain is a hard form to write in, because it's so constraining, but both Stanley and Gage seem to have mastered it. This collection boasts 68 pages of cinquains, including some linked or sequential poems. Several of the poems have appeared in other publications, like Lilliput Review, Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, and Goblin Fruit.

The poems are broken into different sections, and don't appear to be in any particular order with regards to the poets themselves. Sometimes they alternate, while other whole pages will be devoted to either Stanley or Gage. This randomness of authorship works well, leaving the reader unable to nail down a specific rhythm between the two poets.

There are many great poems in this book, like Gage's "Kerouac:"

his ghost
haunts the highways,
watching the horizon
like a wisp of cigarette smoke,
thumb up

While the back of the book says that the cinquains contained within are "intended more to jog your mind... than to clarify the great secrets of existence," some of the poems do delve deeper, like Stanley's "Intraocular Implant:"

The lens
in my right eye
should last for thirty years.
What then, might it see after I
am gone?

Many of the poems in Intrinsic Night are allusory, referring to fairy tales, mythologies, or even mathematics. Some of these allusions went over my head, but that speaks more toward my ignorance than anything else.

Intrinsic Night is a solid collection of cinquains written by two talented poets. The book is professionally printed and perfect bound, with cover art by Scott Virtes. It is available from The Genre Mall for $5.85 plus shipping.

3 comments:

J.E. Stanley said...
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J.E. Stanley said...

Thanks so much for the thoughtful and perceptive review.

And if a reader doesn't get some of the allusions, it has nothing to do with ignorance. The allusions included in some of the poems were quite varied and occasionally quite obscure as well. Plus, some were tangled and twisted versions of the original subjects.

I also have to mention that I loved Scott Virtes' cover art and felt that it complimented the book perfectly.

Thanks again!

J.E.

Greg Schwartz said...

J.E. - yeah, the cover art is great, and definitely adds something to the book.