Review of Sunburst Woman, Jack Ontair

Sunburst Woman is Ontair’s first poetry release and it explores the power of intimacy in love and relationships; split into four parts Ontair’s poems attempt to mirror how intimacy burns, blooms, leaves and will always be remembered.

Part 1, Arsonist, begins the collection in a way which could quickly dishearten the reader from reading the rest of Sunburst Woman. Many of the short form poems in this part read more like statements; often it felt as if the writer was preaching intimacy rather than revealing it in all its beauty and its power. The imagery throughout these pieces was repetitive, with several pieces beginning with ‘Love is…’ or ‘Intimacy is…’.             Thus, the imagery itself felt reductive and clichéd. However, ‘Coconuts’ was a hidden gem and it was this hint of talent and depth which compelled me to read on.

Part 2, The Difference You Make, is a welcomed improvement on Part 1. Ontair’s longer form pieces are far better as he eases into the storytelling and blossoms here. ‘On Things That Begin With An Onion’ and ‘One Has Been Like The Mountains’ are wonderful stories, whilst ‘The Wait’ has a gorgeous rhythm and style. Consequently, it seems as if Sunburst Woman, considering it is a debut, is a collection through which the writer is finding their feet and poetic style. Hence, the collection wavers in quality throughout. Especially when pieces like ‘Losing The Night’ are an absolute triumph.

Part 3, A Fool and His Cottage, does make a return to Part 1 in the writer’s choice of a didactic style when delivering their ideas around intimacy and relationships. The eponymous poem of this part was the best and I wish it had been like Part 4, Sunburst Woman, in which the entire section was dedicated to the longer form poem and the richness of the storytelling. Ontair’s shorter poems simply lack depth and quality.

There is a real talent for storytelling hidden within the pages of this collection and so I wish the entire collection was a chapbook for the longer form pieces. I believe Ontair’s desire to explore intimacy would have flourished with this approach. Thus, I hope work released in the future truly harnesses Ontair’s talent for stories and rhythm.

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