Reviewed by Frank Pizzoli
An evocative yet calming collection of poems perfect for self-reflection
In Book for Lonely Evenings, poet Ethan R. Ray covers the wide gamut of emotions that life provokes in us. Ray reaches into the substance of those feelings by working words into 141 poems that capture universal and personal experiences. He’s said of life that the best stories are the ones we’ve always known. Ray knows his stories well, and they bring us face to face with ourselves.
The book of poems opens with the phrase: “Tired like a dirty saloon.” Whether you’ve been in one or felt fatigued from the stale air of a long night, you’ve likely felt this; I know I have. His poem titles are also particularly sharp like this. I’m thinking of “Can I Fix You” and “Manic Church,” and wondering if I’d had any lately, “Evil Luck” drew me right to its page.
The emotional themes Ray develops in his poems reflect the pensive moments of life. He keeps in mind there is a before, during, and after for every experience that shapes us. In the comings and goings of ordinary life, the ways in which arrivals, departures, beginnings and endings dent or bolster each of us. The times when “lost angels come weeping to your door” or we see “Monsters in mirrors.”
As is revealed in the structure of his poems, Ray’s enrapturing descriptions easily move readers into daydreams of related, past experiences. He chooses and then arranges words on the page in a way that readers will find themselves lingering with what he’s left us.
Ray has a talent for circling his writer’s pen around the essence of our experiences. He doesn’t tell us what to feel. He lifts the veil on life’s challenges to show us what’s there. Then readers can decide what they think and feel about it.
Reading his poems is a quiet, meditative act that puts one in the mood to reflect. Each poem is self-contained in that it usually embodies a single frame of reference, reflecting how we live day to day. For that reason, it’s the kind of poetry book that can leisurely be picked up and then put down. At times, I found myself reading a single poem and then drifting off into a daydream about my own past experiences with the poem’s topic.
Deeply reverent, Ray’s poems promise “the long hidden happiness / Of another tomorrow.” Lonely Evenings holds for readers the promise of a good book for those times when one needs to momentarily step aside from life and consider the possibilities.
Publisher: Resource Publications
Genre: Poetry / Wisdom
Print Length: 306 pages
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