Review: En Route
Author Jesse Wolfe
by Julie Carpenter
En Route is a slim poetry collection about what it might mean to be human, whether it means anything, whether the meaning of life is created through intention or is simply distilled experience.
The poems contained within are clean and deliberate, obviously crafted by the artist – and yet there is a sense that every word chosen is the only sufficient word, that every thought is placed in the only possible order, leaving the reader with the feeling that each piece is a recently discovered artifact. There’s a peculiar calm that emanates throughout this collection, a serenity that’s almost meditative, even when it deals with the struggles of being alone or nostalgia for paths not chosen. Emotions are seen at a distance and the reader experiences them along with the author - as if reader and poet are remembering the same stories through the same fragments of memory. But distance does not reduce significance. The poems are the shells left behind on the beach when the waves pull back, the thing you were looking for all along.
The poetry fits nicely into the slim volume, the cover a gray road vanishing into golden hour and pastel sky, an old house sitting abandoned beside it. The words themselves sit on the page in a light, thin font that skims white space like a reflection on a still lake.
There’s one poem that I found myself returning to, again and again, that seems to get at the heart of Wolfe’s style.
Stripped to my skivvies, scrawny and pale,
on a windy gravel pit
over the half-moon lake.
The moon itself swam in the lake:
When I hit, I thought, I’ll shatter it.
There’s a vulnerability to life here, the poet feels stripped and small, the wind and the moon outweigh him like Fate itself, but also a passing illusion that he might affect the bigger universe shattering the moon.
I won’t say more because Wolfe’s fine poetry speaks for itself, but we highly recommend this chiseled and finely crafted book.
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About the Author:
Jesse Wolfe's poetry has appeared in publications including Tower Journal, Good Works Review, Mad Swirl, and Eunoia Review. An English professor at California State University, Stanislaus, Wolfe previously served as Faculty Advisor to Penumbra, the campus's student-run literary and art journal. His scholarly work includes the monograph Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and a forthcoming book on intimacy in contemporary British and American fiction.
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website and author of Things Get Weird in Whistlestop. She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and has been included in The New Guard Literary Review. She is currently working on a novel titled The Last Train Out of Hell.