CHRIS MANSEL Reviews
THE THINKING EYE by Jennifer Atkinson
(Parlor Press, Anderson, South Carolina, 2016)
Ms. Atkinson writes in detail. In the poem, “Landscape at 3rd Ave, and 1984,” Ms. Atkinson writes, “Caught in the current, / snagged/ a second on the thought of us all.” A second on the thought. This is a very good poem that begins with the line, “From here I can only imagine the rain streaking the tree trunks, the creekbank weeds/soused and toppled.” This is a poem of anticipation it appears, step by step. A couple is setting in to their first house—I think just about everyone can see themselves through this point of view. The nervousness, the comfortable feeling of your own space—they all come through in this piece, even the title speaks to it.
An excellent poem in this collection is “Still, Again: Thirty Years After the Assault.” Ms. Atkinson writes, “Numbness/ hits so slowly when you lie waiting, cold/ and colder, the air from your mouth material/ lifting away from what you once called your/ self.” Poems like this are necessary because they will help someone who has been through the same thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they weren’t necessary anymore? But this is a well written account. As Ms. Atkinson writes later in the piece, “You are vanishing while she takes definite/ shape on the brook edge, her edges.”
At the beginning of the book Ms. Atkinson uses a quote by the artist Paul Klee that says, “Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible.” In The Thinking Eye she travels in that same neighborhood. As she writes in “Drawn from Memory”, “So many of us, each sealed in a separate skin.” The skin is more delicate than we can imagine but also tougher and resilient and can take what life can throw at it. Read this volume and see.
Chris Mansel is a writer, filmmaker, epileptic, musician, photographer and a permanent outsider for some reason. He is the author of While in Exile: The Savage Tale of Walter Seems, Soddoma: The Cantos of Ulysses, Ashes of Thoreau, Interviews and two books of photography entitled, No Burden and Ahisma. Along with Jake Berry, he formed the band Impermanence who have released one album, Arito. He releases music under the name dilapidation Impromptu who have released four albums. His writing and reviews has been published on the web in many sources including The Experioddicist and Galatea Resurrects.