Janeen Pergrin Rastall
Celery City Chapbooks
I believe Objects May Appear Closer is proof of the goodness, the value, and process of poems about family, our past, and the counter-intuitive utility of nostalgia. I once heard, “never write poems about your family,” as an axiom touted by some significant writer. You might imagine how well it stuck. If I recall correctly, the reason given was that it was boring. In truth, I immediately railed against it. Not because I was so sure it was false, but because it took so little for me to imagine it were true. I could see us all sitting there, trying to leave our mark, leave our family’s mark on the world in a language spun from our own familial nebula, believing, perhaps, we could transcribe something important to everyone in the menial affairs of our parents, never to understand why publishers never took our most cherished work. Because it was all blah. I could see then mountains of papers disintegrating, never to be read, and certainly, never to be missed. Because family can blind us to what’s really important, one might easily wander aimlessly across such a poem seemingly convinced every detail as beautiful as the last. But, I’d argue, that shouldn’t mean a good family poem couldn’t be written, only that most people don’t, can’t write them. Janeen Rastall can.
In “Tend,” – what may be the most essential poem of this collection – Janeen asks, “What if you could propagate Time / …?” but her readers won’t think to ask “How?” Throughout Objects May Appear Closer, she achieves sadless nostalgia, taking moments from her own life and renewing them with the touch of a loving gardener “tending” to clones. Throughout the collection, her touch is as kind as it is deliberate. The resulting poems prove their mettle in an arena that often misses the relevance between the audience and the familial – where many might fall flat, Janeen’s work shines.