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Wednesday
Sep272017

Book Review: Lovely Faze

Lovely Faze. Owen Patterson. Chicago: BREVIS Publishing, August 1, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 98 pages.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Melvin.

A deceptively thin collection in an azure cover of flowers-in-motion came across my desk, and the next thing I know, little drops of distortion and disturbances came to me from Owen Patterson’s book, Lovely Faze. As the title would suggest, this poetry collection challenges the reader’s perception by embracing image. The poetry is simple and direct. In a recognizable Midwestern dialect, moments of grief, love, and joy roll across the page. The lasting image of each poem really resonates beyond the initial reading.

Owen Patterson was raised and educated here in the Second City. His background as a tutor, special education paraprofessional, and behavioral health counselor no doubt contribute to his baffling presentation of the human condition. Lovely Faze is his debut work and introduces us to a thoughtful wordsmith of resonating depth.

When I read this work, the faze—the disconcertion—hit me first. I found the imagery in works like ‘There Serene Drama’ and ‘What Remains’ easy to see and follow, yet, like drops of water in a pond, it took a while for the meaning to ripple out and become clear. The work is alluring in that it allows the images to gently evoke the stories and emotions of the poems. The brevity and clarity of the language allows it to be revisited, for that moment to be isolated, until it resonates beyond the words.

The collection is split into three parts. Part One is Lovely, which includes poems about nature and love. There is a resonating heat in these poems supported by beautiful imagery. ‘Ease and Repose’ is a seven-line poem hinged on a single image of “the star in my sky,” and you can feel your entire being exhale as you read these simple direct lines.

My favorite is ‘Missed Inspiration’ from Part Two—Faze. This poem, like others in this section of the book, is full of images that should not make sense and yet are completely correct in spirit.  It speaks of opening and of rain: “I opened my mind/ a wellspring flowed.” The concept of losing that idea in the moment is expressed with this saturated poem. Patterson’s work is often more felt than visualized.

The final section of the book is entitled Memes, where Patterson breaks from poetic construct and instead isolates excerpts of social media. Taking social media commentary or shared moments out of the context of the Internet is powerful; removing the visual cues, the other posts that typically surround an update, leaves the black and white text on an unadorned page. It’s much like speaking to a crowded room that has been silenced. It allows the full weight of the words to ring out on their own to express humor, anger, and sarcasm so that instead of being buried with little ‘likes’ or emojis, the reader is left alone with the words themselves. This robs the reader of the interaction that we so often have with social media, which is to craft our response as we read. By taking these phrases off of social media, readers are encouraged to listen and leave their own ideas at rest for a moment. Instead of adding our two cents, we are invited to just experience the voice of another.

It was after this third section of the book that I went back to revisit the poems and read with a quiet mind. This is a collection of work that can be read and reread, each time finding more in the concise and lovely poems. I would recommend this collection to anyone who wants to set their own voice aside for just a moment to hear, to allow this voice to resonate, to find the story behind the simple ‘sleeping sun’ and ‘waters slipping through my fingers,’ and to enjoy the strength of the written word. 

 

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