Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revolutions by Justin Calderone: Thoughts


Revolutions is a book of contemporary poetry about beginnings and endings, the realization that there cannot be day without night. The poems in Revolutions are not written in traditional poetry format; they are closer to song lyrics than standar poetry, and the way the words are used and spelled are vital to the context of the poem. Written in diary form, Revolutions is about small things in life that affect us the most and the memories that we carry forever. It is a contemporary poetry book of hopes, dreams, prayers, love, loss and wishes. Revolutions is written right now about yesterday and today. And tomorrow.

Revolutions by Justin Calderone is a diary of poems. Calderone writes a poem whenever the mood strikes for two years, which turns into this book of poetry.

Revolutions is the purest poetry I have seen. Calderone does not title his poems. In his introduction, he states “These poems are what you think they are.” Usually when we read poetry, we feel this pressure to find the deeper meaning to every little thing in the poem, which sometimes takes away some things you shouldn’t. This is why I don’t have a big appreciation for poetry. Some poetry is better off being analyzed, but a lot of it just needs to be read and soaked in. Calderone invited us all to soak in his very conversational style of poetry.

Unlike many poets, Calderone does not edit his poems much. He says he can’t go back and edit days later because he is a different person than when he first read the poem. You are reading it just as it comes out of his mind.

This book of poetry is perfect for someone who wants to enjoy poetry but doesn’t exactly want to pick up Shakespeare’s sonnets or some Emily Dickinson. The poems read like song lyrics and move along quickly. Every so often, a line will pop out that is extremely clever or deep, just like what would happen if you were listening to music.

One of my favorite stanzas appears near the beginning of the book, on page 5.

If I tell you that I’m going

Then you know I’m already gone

If I tell you that I’m singing

Then I’m already in the song

If I tell you that I love you

Then my love is twice as strong

This is what poetry should be. It should be easy to enjoy, not pressure the reader, and leave the reader wanting more. I just finished a class this semester where 2/3 of it was poetry. Even though I was on poetry overload and I didn’t want to read another poem for a couple years, Revolutions found its way into my life.

Winter-you’re one old man-who moves faster than me-See-I stop for the cold-But you’re too old


The book ends with a bang. The last poem is the only poem with a title. It is also more personal than the rest of the poems in the book. Calderone is more specific to what the past two years were like for him.

These years have killed me

These years have thrilled me

I touched Heaven

And burned in Hell

I cried myself to sleep

In that soul crying way

Every night

Just to hear someone say

That they love me too.