The Centrifugal Eye - Summer/Autumn 2011

Page 72

~ 72 ~ State Sonnets sunnyoutside press Pages 56/$13 US

& Mead Lake, This Centennial Press 44 Pages/$8 US

By B. J. Best

Road Trip and Retreat:

Two Ideas of Escape in the Poetic Works of B. J. Best By Erik Richardson

B. J. Best is a poet on the rise. His work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, among them: Nimrod International Journal, Mid-American Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. He was also the inaugural featured artist in cream city review. In recognition of his talent, Best has garnered a variety of contest prizes and nominations, and in 2008, he was a finalist to serve as Wisconsin's Poet Laureate. In reading his work, I have found that one of his particular gifts as a writer is his command of place — not just through the senses, but through the skillful use of changing moods, as well. His talent and range can perhaps best be seen in a compare-and-contrast review of two of his published collections: Mead Lake, This (Centennial Press), and State Sonnets (sunnyoutside press), which I offer here to The Centrifugal Eye’s readers.

couple of provinces in Canada. There are some great tensions created in this collection, but perhaps none so masterfully balanced as that between the sheer carnival of sensory images and the steady restraint of being cooped up in a car for hours and hours on end. Oh, but what a carnival it is, as our senses roam from St. Louis, with the “coffee-brown mississippi letting flat illinois know where it stood,” to a wide-open patch in “Utah,” “red and mottled with stones.” Traveling from poem to poem and state to state, Best led me from sleeping in a tent to a motel room with green shag carpeting, and from climbing out of the depths of a cave, where

we sat apart in the rubble when the cave went dark, the void precluding even our breath. we wouldn’t talk, couldn’t move, this blankness as strange as a cavefish

State Sonnets State Sonnets is a full-length book encompassing a wide variety of excursions across the US, as well as Puerto Rico and a

to gazing up as meteors trail blue light above a wooded lake in “Wisconsin.”

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