September 23, 2010

Book Review: Sixty Poems (Lee Evans)

Sixty Poems by Lee Evans expresses the Buddhist sense of the impermanence of things, a theme he also follows in his three previous books.  He reveals a glimpse into his personal vista on the inevitability of death, yet affirms the right of each living being, human and non-human, to experience the cosmos in its own unique way.

In this slim volume we find several different styles of verse.  We find here poetry that is soft and lyrical, prophetic and declamatory, and  poetry that assumes the voice of ancient parable.  The reader will find many well-turned phrases, some deceptively simple.  Reflecting on a dying tree, Evans writes:

But now it rears its head

So proudly through the air:

Half living and half dead,

Without our human cares. (River’s Edge)

Evan’s sense of humor, irony and genuine humility accompany the reader throughout Sixty Poems.    The book is composed of several series of poems, grouped together roughly yet sequentially, and moves through the personal, social and spiritual dimensions of the poet’s experience and thought.

The book begins with poems on Evan’s own mortality and eventual demise, continuing on to poetry that criticizes society and social attitudes.   It then moves on to poems which describe the attempt to live in the moment (the Tao) and learn from the past (but not in blind obedience to it).  The final grouping of poems is on love.

By the end of the book, we’ve learned to appreciate the eccentricity and caginess of Lee Evans in his lessons of living right.  If it is his fate to remain an unsung poet (as he laments in one of his poems), then maybe he’s an unsung Zen master too. If age 60 is the new 40, as I’ve heard it said, then this poet will hopefully be with us for a lot longer, delighting us as he writes and kicks his way across the page.

Sixty Poems, by Lee Evan, is available at Lulu.com in print and eBook.

Reviewed by Paul Dolinsky.  Contact him at [email protected].

Paul Dolinsky is a writer, poet and philosopher living in upstate New York.

His Buddhist’s views on life are as broad and clear as the heavens.

He is the Editor of thegoldenlantern.com

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