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Another Way To Begin by Don Colburn

I picked the collection of poems by Don Colburn entitled, “Another Way To Begin,” and couldn’t put it down. His poems appear simple on the surface with titles such as “Wildflowers,” “Given,” and “The Wish,” but are rich with narrative and beautiful diction.
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Colburn is a writer and retired journalist for The Washington Post and The Oregonian, in Portland, Oregon. His poems have appeared in various publications and he was won awards such as the Finishing Line Press Prize and the Duckabush Prize for Poetry, among others. He has published three books of poetry including “Because You Might Not Remember,” “As If Gravity Were a Theory,” and the previously mentioned, “Another Way To Begin.”

This book of poems is filled with striking images and sentences that both sound and look good on the page. In “Martins Ferry,” the poem begins with, “If this were a letter to James Wright,/ I would tell him how the rain colored everything/ in its own image and how the road into town,/ like the tracks and the river alongside,/ is still the road out of town.” The variety of his topics makes each poem seem like a different book, yet the linking factor of nature and a variation of sadness as an undertone to each poem, like in his poem entitled “Late.”
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In the poem “There,” slant rhymes, alliteration and line break create a poem you will want to read over and over again.
There

Water, bone, bed, bedrock —

whatever is underneath, below what’s below.

Sudden touchable quiet, shadow

of a shadow. Weather. Sadness turning

ordinary. Nameless illness coming on.

A knock at the door so gentle

it could be anything. Distance.

The just thing not said, or said too late

Or said exactly and without mercy.

Wind rising. Whatever might rise.

 

The title in which the book is named is also an underlying theme in all of his poems in this book. In the poem, “The Art Of Poetry” the idea of starting over is evident.

 

The Art Of Poetry

Of course it came out short

of what the body wants.

Enough I said, slapping

my knees. What’s the use? Why

waste time, your only life,

turning yourself crazy?

You could be fixing lunch,

running a wash, clipping

your nails or the lawn, some

task with a beginning

and an end so you know

where to start over. Weeds,

laundry, hunger — no lack

of fresh material.

But silence grows back too,

Out of the feeling that

couldn’t contain it. The

wrong words are another

way to begin. Enough,

I said. And sat back down.

 

This book contains poems that are very complex but also enjoyable and fun to read. I definitely recommend it!

 

 

By: Carly Davis

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