Review: Practicing to Walk Like a Heron
Poems by Jack Ridl
Wayne State University Press
A four section book topping out at a whopping 158 pages, this tome’s poems engage without bombastics. There’s no need for painstaking quadruple readings (though any reader would enjoy re-reading) – these are immediate poems at an even pace. They glide with all the grace of the title bird, a river of words steadily, surely flowing in a wide, long rutted guttural bed. “Guttural” because these are poems of the body, of its hungers and gratifications, residual as muscle memory, as natural as flesh knowledge. And then, surprise – “Interlude: “Hey Skinny, the Circus is in Town!”” “Interlude” being a perfect word for the third section which departs from the personal-made-public prior themes for a stint under the big top. The entire section enjoys a circus-inspired color graphic header and trades Christmas ornaments, weeding, and old dogs for transient lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists. The book then winds down with a final section (“The Hidden Permutations of Sorrow”) that returns to themes from the first two sections. Despite the section title’s connotations, these are not overwrought downer poems. Ridl fluidly blends love and clarity, rendering poems that transcend distance between poet and reader.
This review originally appeared in our July 2013 newsletter.