Book Review

Lowell Jaeger, We, Main Street Rag, 2010

Reviewed by Ramona Davis

Based on the people, instances, thoughts, and ideas that we encounter everyday, Lowell Jaeger has introduced us to the very definition of life in his new book of poems titled, We. Through his eyes, we feel compassion for stroke survivors who:

with cane,
out walking.

One foot
drags morning
down the road
as I drive by...

The gymnastics of making do.
(Stroke Survivor, page 7)

and hope for the man who:

with cardboard sign.
Freeway exit.
In the rain.
(Man, page 26)

What is possibly most amazing about Jaeger's poems however, is how with one simple stanza,

...And when it rains,
doesn't it rain on us all?

we feel as if we are in this man's shoes, realizing that at any moment, with any circumstance, we could be at the "Freeway exit" with the sign saying "Please"; this is the mark of a truly gifted and talented poet.

Not all of Jaeger's poems are this heavy, though.

I found humor in "I Pled Jelly Gents," reminding me of the Christmas cartoon Olive the Other Reindeer and how some things don't always sound like they really are because "I Pledge Allegiance," does sound surprisingly close to "I Pled Jelly Gents," no matter how you try to rationalize it in your mind. I also found myself laughing at the imagery of alfalfa looking like sperm in the poem "Sex Ed." 

We by Lowell Jaeger feels like a celebration of life's triumphs and trials, as well as its diversity. While there were poems in the book that didn't resonate with me, I was drawn to the majority, whose images were real and powerful.

The sections that were used to define the poems in We were also welcome and aptly named (We, The People, On the Street), including wonderful quotes from the likes of Al Young, Joy Harjo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Lawson Fusao Inada. My favorite of these was in The People and spoken by Joy Harjo.

Harjo said that “From the moon we all look the same,” and while Mr. Jaeger's poems are unlike the poems I have read from any other poet, myself included, he does remind me through We that despite our differences, we are indeed all the same.

Ramona Davis holds a degree in Creative Writing. In addition, she owns Altered Words, a self publishing company that also offers proofreading, resume, and typing services, as well as creative writing tutoring. In her spare time she writes reviews for Verse Wisconsin, teaches crochet, tests crochet patterns and writes reviews of them for RAKJ Patterns, and writes poetry on her blog.