Zoom Blog

Everything BlazeVOX

Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow Reviewed on Prick of the Spindle

 Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow

BlazeVOX [books], 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60964-082-8
Paperback, 146 pp., $16
Review by Marie Loeffler

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
—from “Song of Myself” (1892 version) by Walt Whitman

A celebration of humanity seems to circumscribe Bill Yarrow’s poetic style, his artistic curiosity drawn out in phrases that take common experiences, elevating them into all-encompassing—possibly best described as worldly—perspectives on existence. Yarrow is bold as he juxtaposes complex images and ideas, delving deeper than surface thinking on any given topic, while he explores a rich collection of diverse word meanings and themes. He utilizes a variety of poetic forms, as well, fusing the intricate human mind’s multifarious inner workings with humor, personality, and humility.

Yarrow most poignantly sings of the self in past reflections of personal journeys, describing such events with intense imagery and words that paint a poetic tableau of colors, scents, and tastes. Yarrow vividly recounts a vacation he took at a northern resort where

He was drawn to water…
Water of dangerous
hues of blue. More violet than the pale-faced palette
of the sky.

He follows this solid setting of his scene with a more serious philosophical reflection:

Water, the glue of contingent necessity.
Water, the stippled foundation of all foundational
philosophy. He looked into the watery eyes of the old
woman sitting next to him.

This excerpt is striking for many reasons: Yarrow’s play on the word “foundation,” the rhythm of the section with syllables that dance lightly on the tongue when spoken aloud, the repetition of “Water.” Due to all of these minute yet hardly insignificant nuances, the piece has not only a strong visual quality, but also a musical feel that is a pleasure to read. But this pleasure does not in any way make the poem trivial; the work is enhanced by the seriousness of Yarrow’s connection to the place and to the old woman he notices, who readers are invited to observe with the author in tandem—a prompt that randomly and miraculously connects everyone who participates in viewing this particular work. The entire vignette draws to a similarly mellifluous and soothing close with alliteration in syllables as smooth as the images Yarrow employs to give life to his thoughts:

The sun was disappearing over
Traverse City. There was nothing on the lake but a
faint sailboat and a shadowy gull…
The soft sounds of sunset had subsided into silence.
The black water infinitely resonant spoke a lasting vastness.

Read the whole review here

Leave a Reply

Extra Pages

Photos on flickr