Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Accepting Loss Forever:
A Review of Michael Hogan's In the Time of the Jacarandas
by Kirpal Gordon
In The Time of the Jacarandas, Michael Hogan, no stranger to life’s essential mystery, sings of the surrender & the descent into “accepting loss forever” (Jack Keruoac). Ah, but how deceptive are Hogan’s unmetered, unrhymed stanzas of poetry (a/k/a free verse) for they read so easily and appear so tame, but they will not just break a heart but rip it out of its illusion of separateness “so that the ordinary will once again / become miraculous / and spirit percolate through all the narrow spaces.”
Weaving memories of growing up in Newport, Rhode Island, with his many years in Guadalajara, Mexico, Hogan offers an alternative view of getting older than the one offered by security-obsessed Gringolandia, “We’ve lost the option of dying young / this is our reward: / waking each day to pains in new places / our middles thickened, our breaths shorter.” What he hasn’t lost is the perspective of history. Take an eye to his most striking poem, “November 11, 1918,” which, to misquote Charles Olson, reminds readers “what does not change / is the will to chains.” Like Trappist monk Thomas Merton (Raids on the Unspeakable), Hogan in this powerfully moving autumnal collection is approaching a post-Catholic universal spirituality based not on belief but on experience. He welcomes the reader into the company of “a few old women in church who finger their beads / and pay no attention to the service/ funeral and marriage are one and the same.” A great read for young people but a must-read for poetry lovers approaching seventy!

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