Praise for Living Things

Thank you to Justin Evans for his kind words:

“As for the new year, I started early with my goal to buy a book of poetry per month. For December, I traded Charlie Jensen for his chapbook, Living Things. A marvelous read, a great tandem read with Donald Hall’s poetry (The Painted Bed) about his wife, Jane, which I happened to buy with my annual giftcard from my in-laws. Chariie certainly has his own voice, though, and is able to, in his spare language, express grief with the best of them. In not naming the ‘you’ addressed in his book, or shifting to the third person, Charlie forces the reader to question more. There are no certainties, no safe harbor for the reader. Thank you, Charlie, for offering the trade. I loved the book. This from Hall, which I think your poems are equal to (I hope you don’t mind the comparison):

You think that their
dying is the worst
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

Like I said earlier. Your book, along with Hall’s was a double shot of grief. I really enjoy the contrast of your spare words.”

And thanks also to Anne Haines:

“I started out wanting to describe these poems as elegiac, but I think of elegies as being in some way about the person being mourned, and in this chapbook, the deceased beloved is present only as body — we don’t get a strong sense of what he was like in life. Instead, the experience of mourning itself takes center stage and serves almost as a character, a personage. There is the necessity of dealing with the body of the deceased, the necessity of funeral and ritual, the necessity of coping with the day-to-day post-funeral mundanities (e.g. bills that continue to arrive), and there is the way mourning rings out into the world and, for a time, changes everything the mourner sees. These poems aren’t about the dead, or even really about the memory of the dead: they’re about the living. I’d read many of these poems before, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read them in the context of this small collection.”

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