Review of Gates, Jay Green

Originally published on Reedsy Discovery.

Green’s collection, Gates, is refreshing, original and a book for the 21st century. Behind Green’s words are the stories, thoughts and feelings of a human being who loves, wins and loses too.

Split into two parts, Gates is a collection of quiet, inimitable power. It begins with ‘Namesake’, a poem loudly proclaiming an identity which rises above prejudice and discrimination. This pride and heritage is seen again in ‘Penmanship’, ‘Grammar’, ‘Slapbox’ and ‘Blues and Barbecue.’ Green’s writing about home, his family and his neighbourhood is atmospheric – he captures the simplicity and serendipity of the ordinary.

This collection also ruminates on the very nature of poetry. Again, he captures the simplicity yet beauty in writing about the everyday:

“Then I read a poem about bird watching.

Then I read a poem about morning breakfast.

Then I read a poem about a tree.

And they were better than most poems I’ve seen.” (What is A Poem)

In doing so, Green celebrates the essence of this own work; in poems like ‘Ode to Peanut Butter’ and ‘Along the Bookshelf’. Everything seems simple but nothing is, because Green unravels the intricacies and the messages hidden within every thing and every moment we touch, hear, taste and feel.

Every piece in Gates is purposeful and moving in small, subtle ways. This is why Green as a quiet power; a power to make you smile, laugh and see beyond the superficial without forcing imagery, rhythm and twelve letter long words down your throat. Green says it as he sees it, weaves it as he imagines it and does not shy away from the straightforward; he is confident in his work and thus reminiscent of Hemingway and Ginsberg.

But, although reminiscent of 20th century writers, poems like ‘Youngblood’ and ‘War Poet’ prove Green is for the 21st century. He acknowledges the technological world we live in and strives to be his own poet, not a cheap imitation and I believe in Gates he achieves this; most especially in the flawless, ‘Songs for Us’.

Green begins by stating his identity and by the end of this collection there is no denying the power of this poet or who he is.

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