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Jerry Fagnani

Forfatter af A Kinder Bright

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Værker af Jerry Fagnani

A Kinder Bright (2006) 5 eksemplarer

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This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
"We often choose to remember
our brightest memories.
But certain brightness can be harsh.
For me, I prefer a kinder bright."

- Jerry Fagnani

Well, and this is not to put too fine a point on it, I am not sure I could recommend this book enough. I loved it and I am still a little blown away by it.

I will be the first to admit that I am a lover of poetry. That is one reason I was so excited when I saw that the first book I was to receive from Library Thing's Early Reviewers program was a book of poetry. I was thrilled, but at the same time a little voice in the back of my mind said, "Uh oh." Because I am pretty particular about my poetry. I didn't want my first ever review of one of their books to be a negative one! And I knew I wouldn't be able to lie if it was truly awful. Poetry in modern times has a problem, as far as I am concerned. And that problem is poets who don't know when their prose has become a little too purple, their free verse a touch too florid. It drives me nuts and ruins poetry for me when that happens. And it happens far too frequently.

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about with Fagnani's "A Kinder Bright: Poems of Praise and Remembrance". Fagnani is just my type of poet. He is simple, straightforward and even when he is killing you with the pain of the loss of his beloved wife, Elaine, he manages to wrap the words in velvet. His imagery is striking and honest... and no less starkly powerful for it's simplicity. Reading the best of his poems is like listening to the last song of the night in an almost empty jazz club... that moment when the pianist is a bit tired, probably slightly drunk and more than a little sad. When he is just putting down the notes that need to be there, and nothing else. When everything nonessential is stripped away and all you are left with is the raw pain of a life lived long, and the horrible beauty it contains.

The book itself is split into three sections:

First is "Moments in Time". These poems basically cover the span of his life from the perspective of a man who has grown old, and is looking back with longing on his youth. It contains remembrances of friends and loved ones who have passed away, the innocence and purity of youth and his love of the outdoors. This is my least favorite of the three sections, but not because of any failing in the poetry itself. There is just one poem in this section that doesn't seem to belong. As traumatic as the Kennedy assassination must have been for anyone alive on that day, the poem here is so different from all the others that is must have been written in a vastly different portion of the author's life. It was jarringly different, and really took away from the flow of this section. It's not a bad poem, but it just doesn't belong here.

Second is "The Lackawanna Collection". These poems talk about his life as it relates to Fagnani growing up close to the Lackawanna River in Jessup, Pennsylvania. It is fairly obvious from the poems that he has been a lifelong lover of the outdoors, and perhaps that is something else that lends his poetry its unique honesty. One so in touch with nature must find it somehow harder to remove themselves from the truth of life, the passage of time and the constancy of change. After reading this section, it is hard not to jump on a plane headed for Pennsylvania to see if you can capture some of the peace of Fagnani's childhood romps among white birches and hear the "Lackawanna whisper" in the "Lackawanna night". This is my second favorite section.

Third, and my favorite of all the sections, is "The Elaine Collection". I am a sucker for a love story, and if the pain suffered at it's loss is any indication of the magnitude of a love shared, then Elaine and Jerry must have had a powerful love for each other. One gets the feeling by the end of this section that were it not for the children and grandchildren born out of their love, Jerry would have promptly followed Elaine over to the other side. It's a rare honor to see this kind of love from a male perspective in modern times, and the poems in this section are simply the best of the book. I am not sure how kind the brightness of looking on memories of Elaine might be for the author, though. It might be a good deal like looking at the noon day sun for how he describes their love.

I guess in the end, the only question this book leaves for me is this:

Would Jerry give up the brightness of that love and the joy of the happy memories of his young life so that he might not have to suffer now in the darkness he is left with in their absence? I'm not sure I know the answer to that question.

Give this book a read and decide for yourself.

To sum up, as the primary reviewer for "Sherry's Blurbing Book Blog", I give "A Kinder Bright"...

5 (out of 5) stars!!

You owe it to yourself to give this book a go. It doesn't get much more darkly beautiful than this, folks. As the author writes about the river of his childhood, this book is truly "the free movement of a flowing jewel."

Wishing you the best of books,

… (mere)
sherryhass | 1 anden anmeldelse | Mar 16, 2009 |
In this volume, Jerry Fagnani turns to poetry. He has selected poems reflecting the great love that has influenced his life. All of this is most evident in The Elaine Collection. The Lackawanna Collection is a masterful work about the valley and county he embraces. This collection speaks to its rich texture and defines a perspective, often unseen by many, which shows how its seams of beauty infuse our very spirit. Finally, the whole work reveals to us an image of fierce loyalty and passion. Jerry has an unlimited commitment to his family with a love that is admirable.… (mere)
TributeBooks | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 12, 2009 |