By Jon Woodward
Relying on youthful sincerity rather than nostalgic rumination, Woodward's second collection is sweet, sharp, and honest. Energetic interlinked poems describe the daily and sometimes surprisingly routine nature of sorrow, as a series of short lyric bursts give form to a story of loss, sadness, and recovery.
Winner of the 2005 Verse Prize, selected by the Verse Press Editorial Board
In his second book, Rain, Jon Woodward wallows in the beauty of modern decay and the poignant absurdity of unabashed grief. A personal testament to mourning and recovery, to the stages of bereavement and the urban ghosts that follow, Rain explores the trials of modern life, quietly propelling the reader through the mental process of redemption after trauma, of a world fallen but not completely lost, mired in chaos but still striking.
Lauren Grewe, Verse Magazine
Rain is thematically adventurous, driven by its subtle narrative of a natural force's physical and psychological effects in a largely urban environment. Because this theme is handled dexterously, and with great delicacy, the book feels simultaneously intimate and expansive.
Nathan Thompson, Stride Magazine
Here's a book you can read in half an hour; it could stay with you for years....Woodward swivels easily from plainspoken dailiness to rhetorical heights.
Stephen Burt, The Believer
The pleasure of a book like this is in discovery. Could it be true that the rain or Woodward's grief washes some things away, and we replace the spaces with our own meanings, our own losses? These works appear to leave room for more than the obvious, and more than what is written.
Raewyn Alexander, Jacket Magazine
In the period of time recorded in Jon Woodward's Rain, the speaker represented in the poems (ostensibly Woodward himself) makes breakfast, hangs out with his friend Patrick, fantasizes about the prophet Ezekiel, and falls in love. All of this is presented matter-of-factly, in a thrown-off manner that suggests note-taking for what might later become poems. What transforms this material into poetry now is form: all of these lyrics are cast in five-line stanzas with five words per line. Woodward's strict adherence to a simple, easily discernible pattern reminds us that something other than the organic unfolding of a mind in thought is at play here. To take control of his thoughts Woodward imposes upon them a seemingly arbitrary physical constraint; he is writing instead of thinking, or better, he is writing as a new way of thinking.
Craig Morgan Teicher, Boston Review
Naturally, I bought Rain as soon as it came out, and for a few months I flipped it open and read a poem here and there without really finding a way in to the book. Then finally, I began reading from beginning to end, and the book all but exploded in my hand. Dropping in here and there, I hadn't picked up on the formal rigors of the book. If the poems in Mister Goodbye Easter Island were like the contents of a jar labeled "This One Makes You Bigger," the poems in Rain work in a viral way, infecting each other and the reader's thought with replications of a capricious syntax inside a formal cell.
Heather Green, Octopus Magazine
Though it rains throughout the book, the poems never really slip up. Their simple language captures what is beautiful about a life in which not much happens (most lives, by the way)—that is, we're alive to see, and hear, and touch, and contemplate it, whatever it is. It's not so much that there are things hidden in these poems that rereading will reveal but that there's something so spot-on (and interesting and entertaining) about the personality and world the poems evince that rereading the collection illumines what it means to be human. At times, one has the feeling of reading a, say, somewhat inchoate Dream Songs. I've read the book through three times, and I see no reason to stop there.
David Sewell, Coldfront
The sometimes surreal Rain with its "fabricated nightmares," concrete settings and familiar emotions is more approachable than the poetry you might be used to. A good book of poems like Rain will stick with you and will help open things up, offering new ways to see the world.
John J. Geysen, Pop Syndicate
Jon Woodward was born in Wichita, Kansas and currently works for the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. His first book, Mister Goodbye Easter Island, was published by Alice James Books in 2003.
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
ISBN# 9781933517148 (5.5x7.5 88pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517148 (5.5x7.5 88pp, limited edition hardcover)