Changes: A Collection of Prose and Poetry is a brief concentration of wordsmithing that is aptly titled. Each short piece focuses upon an aspect of change, whether internal or external to the author and, through well-scripted thoughts, the reader. The topics vary, covering several aspects of the ever-turning voyage we call life.
In several places, Graham uses musical imagery, such as “you reflect on wasting your inner drums, and fathom playing your tune elsewhere.” This adds an additional use of sense to the works, as you imagine the sounds that accompany the author’s creativity. I particularly like the poem “Channel Distortion,” which represents, for me, a common sense of frustration we have developed in this fast-paced world that is constantly battling for attention and, in essence, depleting our attention spans.
Graham uses a variety of poetic forms, which are conveniently notated parenthetically after the title of the poem. This variety showcases his use of carefully-crafted words and expressions to convey common emotional states, as well of his flexibility with style and length.
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. These are poems I will keep nearby to read again and contemplate. There were a few that I am still attempting to grasp completely, but at another point in time, clarity may appear. Any work that draws you back for further study is a valuable work.
I was able to ask J.R. Graham a few questions about his poems. Thank you, Mr. Graham, for agreeing to give this reader some insights.
Q: What instrument do you play/sing as a musician? I noticed a variety of images invoking musical references.
A: I have played the guitar for over 15 years, and have also delved into the world of art (sketches, drawings, ect. If one is curious, they may visit “from the sketchbook” page on my blog at: jbirds830.wordpress.com, for a variety of samples). The two passions are perhaps the fuel for inspiration, which ignite the blank pages before me.
Q: Are there any particular pieces of music that you listened to while writing, or that inspired these poems?
A: Not in paticular. But for “Sevenling,” the idea of an orchestra and it’s director was envisioned, and the metaphors therein.
Q: What was your inspiration for putting together this collection of pieces? Was there a common theme you wanted to express throughout the works?
A: I was mostly trying to incorporate the theme of “change” within people’s lives… the differences we may overcome or avoid in one’s existence; however some of the poems were re-written from ideas I had pieced together from my years in high school and junior college (such as “A castle in the sky” and “The fidelity express”), therefore, those works were more adaptable to one’s imagination.
Q: I noticed that you included the name of the poetry form with some pieces, and used quite a variety. Were some forms more difficult to work with than others?
A: Undoubtedly so. The few that come to mind are; “The unstrung marionette, and Ms. Anne Quin and the Medicine Man.” (A hidden innuendo in the first half of the title: drop the “s” and you have Mannequin). Respectively, they are the sestina and the paradelle forms. The formats I present in this collection were not only the most difficult to write (comparing freestyle), they were also the most enjoyable to write, and for that reason, I loved to see them progress, in the same way I love to be challenged as a writer. But most importantly, within that challenge, lies the pure desire to produce the best work I can possibly squeeze out of every story. That will forever be my greatest challenge of all.
Q: Which piece in this collection is your personal favorite? And why?
A: There are many, of course, but if I had to choose one, it would be “Never a bird cry sorrow.” This piece was published in both the “Eclectic Muse Journal” and “Bell’s letters poets.” It became a general favorite of others and was inspired by my love of birds. I’m sure many of us, in one time or another, have wondered what it would be like to exist as another species of our world, but in addition to my answer, I gave the reasons for my choice; my wish to have wings.
Q: What is your next writing project?
A: I am currently working on a short story collection of 4 pieces; it is currently untitled, but readers can find updates on my blog, at jbirds830.wordpress.com. After that, I will hope to begin my next novel, a fiction of satirical drama and suspense; an idea that was inspired by my father’s request.
Where can readers find J.R. Graham:
BLOG: jbirds830.wordpress.com Click on the header “Media Links” to discover more social media connections of J.R. Graham.
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