Before I launch into a review of Lures a book of poems by Adam Vines, I’m going to reiterate that I am a fledgling student of poetry, in both writing and reading. While I have read poetry for many years, it has always been with the sole intent of enjoying and if I didn’t enjoy, I didn’t read. Which places us in the realm of accessibility.
While I would like to be that student who finds all poetry accessible, I do not. I would like to reach that point in my education before I die but may never. So all of those poets who harken to Classical literature that I have not read, you are inaccessible. <shrug> I don’t believe anyone needs to apologize here. It is what it is as those of so much education will tell us. 😉 I have the awful sneaking suspicion, as the old folks would say, that there’s elitism going on here but is it truly elite if we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves in order to understand? Ah, there’s the rub.
Anyway, all of this is to indicate where I am coming from in this review. Simply put: I am no expert, just a lover.
February 9, 2022
Blurb: Written almost exclusively in traditional, modified, and nonce forms, the poems in Lures renegotiate grief, trauma, southern masculinities, and fatherhood with unflinching resolve. This new collection by Adam Vines draws much of its subject matter and imagery from fishing, revealing how close observations of species, spawning cycles, predation and feeding patterns, underwater topographies, water clarity, and lure choice reflect larger themes of what it means to be lured through memories of those who have passed and those who remain present.
With Lures, Vines proposes that by reconstructing the stories from our past, we gain a greater understanding of our cultural identities and inheritances from those who made an impact on our lives.
I have been extremely thoughtful in the books of poetry that I have requested to review, because I think poetry requires a different relationship between author and reader than does any other prose. I could be wrong in that, but, you know, that wouldn’t be the first time. I did hesitate before choosing Lures: Poems by Adam Vines because too many years have gone by since I was a little fisherperson guided by her brother and I am in a totally different place now.
Unfortunately, I should have suspected that my hesitation in this matter meant something because I really didn’t connect easily with many of these poems. Some I felt were inaccessible to me. Others felt distant, like someone expressing emotions through cupped hands in the Grand Canyon. The poems I related to were the ones in which the boy connected to his father, the daughter asking what it was like to be a boy, and the heron showing recognition–so many people just don’t get how smart animals are. In the same vein, I was surprised that someone who saw roiling in the water would want to just toss crabs to their death. But, yeah, I am in a different place than I used be growing up with a crab boil and Old Bay seasoning.
Some of the forms felt unnatural to me, as if emphasis was on framing rather than content or emotion. But perhaps that is my issue. I never felt like these poems spoke to me emotionally. Maybe that was intended. As a reader of poetry, though, that’s what I want. I want to feel, but, perhaps, this too is another place in which a reader feels different things depending on where they are. This one just wasn’t for me, but that’s nothing against the poet or the poems. Sometimes you just need to connect.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.