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“Bless all that rusts and ages”: Clark on Jones & Maginnes

Calendar pages turn. Leaves fall from trees. The weather app on my phone alternates between “wear a coat” and “take an umbrella.” Tis the season of reminiscing on lazy days of summer youth, gratitude for things large and small, and contemplating the quietude of winter.

In that vein, we share Professor Emeritus Jim Clark’s review of two new poetry books–Something Wonderful by Paul Jones and The Beasts that Vanish by Al Maginnes–from the NCLR Online Fall 2022 digital issue. “Both are heftier collections than your typical slim volume of poetry, coming in right around one hundred pages each. Perhaps that’s because these poets have been around long enough to have some things to say. And perhaps because they have been around a while, it’s not surprising that poems of mortality, aging, and death are a signal feature of both books.”

Clark discusses the poets’ use of narrative, imagination, and joyful language. And since the 2022 theme is “teachers who write, writers who teach,” Clark also takes the reader through the poetic influences on Jones and Maginnes, including Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Christopher Smart, and Gerald Stern. Tracing lineage, as any good teacher will tell you, gives context to the work of an artist. As Clark posits about one of Jones’ poems: it “ends with lines that could almost provide a credo for the whole collection: ‘The life you lived is all / you can leave behind. / Now eternity can begin’ “