Review of Turning Pages
I am one of the fortunate few who have had the opportunity to read J.L. Carey Jr.'s work in the past, so I looked forward to reading his first published collection of poems. Turning Pages surpassed all anticipation.
The core of the book follows “the mythological Japanese priest, Ajari-Joan”– a fascinating legend in and of itself. But Turning Pages takes the basic elements of that story- birth, spirit, love, loss, pain, death, and hope- and weaves the world around them. It speaks to the talents of the author that poems touching on his own family, Greek philosophy, Irish proverbs, even a traffic accident, flow so seamlessly together with those capturing the tumultuous life (and after-life) of the legendary priest. What J.L. does in Turning Pages is not merely uncover a forgotten legend, but knock down barriers of time, space, and species to reveal the interconnectedness of everything.
Turning Pages is rich in patterns and connections. J.L. sets a visual framework of repeating spirals and repeating poetic form. But on this stable trellis, a garden of the unexpected flourishes. One of my favorites in the collection is “Universal Song”. Obviously personal to J.L., the poem is a touching tribute to love. But the work transcends itself and touches on the wider interconnectedness between all people and the “Maestro” who composes our lives.
I expected to enjoy Turning Pages . Knowing J.L.’s work, I also expected to learn and grow. I was not disappointed in either respect. The poems of Ajari-Joan, as well as the mythical “Bamboo Princess”, and the microscopic “Genus Volvox”, are among the intellectual treats, while poems such as “Goose Egg” rearrange perception itself.
J.L.’s love of language is obvious and he uses the poetic form masterfully. The poems in Turning Pages are lush in language and touched with whimsical bits of word play. I recommend Turning Pages to all who enjoy good poetry, and to anyone who wants an enriching reading experience.
Tina Twito is a library director, writer, and poet. She was a first prize winner of the CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition, and has had many poems published in periodicals for children and adults.