Book Review: Poetry: rel[am]ent by Jamison Crabtree

I’m not sure where I found this book of poetry by Jamison Crabtree, or how long ago it was, but I finally got around to finishing it. The book rel[am]ent is divided into sections of laments to various universal monsters with a large poem in the center called “golem” and finishes with “relent.”

Themed books of poetry are a risk and often I am not willing to take such a risk. I like poems that fit together, but I am never sure how the public feels about these things. In my own life I have created several collections based on themes, but I have not felt comfortable releasing them into the world. This collection of poems by Jamison Crabtree works on several levels. He writes laments for characters of movies that multi-generations can identify with like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Blob.

The reader, by title alone, arrives with preconceived notions based on how well they know each of the characters, but then they get surprised by how connected yet disconnected the poems are to each of them. The writer interjects himself into the role of each character as if he were in the room with them, thus morphing the lament into something more personal.

There are great individual lines and stanzas encapsulated in this book, but on a whole there were only three poems in their entirety that touched me. The pieces of the poems that I enjoyed cut me and gave me something to think about however when surrounded by words that were less than connected or intense, it made the poem in its entirety fall a bit flat for me.

I think this is a collection that will hit people in different places depending on their experiences and background. It reminds me of the type of poetry I wrote in college in the early 90s where life ticked by in fractured light and poems felt like clips of film shown out of order or with the sound reel missing. This collection provided me with nostalgia on two levels.

Jamison Crabtree’s rel[am]ent can be found at The Word Works. He was the winner of the 2014 Washington Prize.

“lament for dracula”

you carve ghosts into bus-stop benches
you, to cry into the barrel of your guns.

we can live forever among our wrong loves

if we can grieve, if we believe we are capable

of any real grief (no, we are not.)