A review of One of Us One Night by Mark Wisniewski

There are seventeen poems in this chapbook so that in this brief book the poems are all fairly long. Most of them explore situations or play with narrative possibilities. The ingenuity is significant and the care in the selection of words and their placement on the paper is exceptional.

Reviewed by Bob Williams

One of Us One Night
by Mark Wisniewski
Platonic 3Way Press
2006, $5.00, 41 pages

Wisniewski is a prolific writer who has published widely in over 200 magazines. Besides his poetry he has written a novel, a collection of short stories, and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and the 2006 Tobias Wolff Award.

I visited the website of Platonic and find that the publisher is dedicated to plain poetry uncontaminated by academic pretensions and obscurities. The statement reads like a manifesto. But artificial dirt-under-the-nails is as much a pretension as any other and subjects its practitioners to just as many restrictions as academic, hermetic poetry.

The main restriction is form: there must not be any.

You know
that
any setting
of words
can be
a sort of
fake poetry
if the lines
are short
and the
words are
simple.

The second restriction is the need for some kind of narrative. It is a constant challenge to come close to telling a story without actually doing so. This is where Wisniewski steps in and redeems the silliness of his publisher’s self-imposed limitations. He has a good sense of how little to tell and keep the reader’s attention. However, I responded most to the poem that was almost a complete story. A man – the ‘I’ of the poem – angry with his woman, loads the car with some of his belongings, reflects on what he is leaving behind, and makes several trips to haul more belongings into his car. At last, exhausted, he sees that he is now

irked by how
easily she could
leave me

There are seventeen poems in this chapbook so that in this brief book the poems are all fairly long. Most of them explore situations or play with narrative possibilities. The ingenuity is significant and the care in the selection of words and their placement on the paper is exceptional. Wisniewski has an attractive warmth of manner and an honesty of disclosure that makes some absorbing reading. He is very good at what he does and for those readers willing to accept a limited approach to the basics of living, this is a collection that will delight and entertain.

About the Reviewer: Bob Williams is retired and lives in a small town with his wife, dogs and a cat. He has been collecting books all his life, and has done freelance writing, mostly on classical music. His principal interests are James Joyce, Jane Austen and Homer. His writings, two books and a number of short articles on Joyce, can be accessed at: http://www.grand-teton.com/service/Persons_Places

Views All Time
Views All Time
632
Views Today
Views Today
1