Falls Into Place
by Jesse A. Murray
Published by Off the Field Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$14.99 ISBN 9-781777-591328
Saskatoon writer and teacher Jesse A. Murray recently released his sixth book, the poetry collection Falls Into Place. While many writers toil several years over a single book, this prolific writer has self-published five poetry collections between 2020 and 2022—this could be a record! As the title suggests, his poems just seem to “fall into place,” and this proved especially true during the global pandemic. “When the pandemic hit, my life changed. My writing changed. I had to work from home … I started to go through all of my piles of writing that I hadn’t looked at in years,” he states, and says that most of the poems in this book were written “before bed”. Transitions also included a new job, a marriage, and impending fatherhood.
I’m familiar with Murray’s work via two of his other poetry collections—I Will Never Break and Not Here To Stay—and find many similarities here. Physically, they’re large poetry collections, and the oft-rhyming poems tend toward introspection—and, specifically, not quite measuring up to the yardstick the narrator’s set for himself. The first several poems hint at a failed romance, and memories of that distant lover “who went away” haunt the narrator: “But I don’t know, what,/I’d actually do,/ If I ever set eyes on you,/ Again.” In his piece “Love Of A Lifetime,” he blatantly spells out grief: “Who knew the love of a lifetime,/Would become the regret of a lifetime.”
Some of the poems are astoundingly brief, and readers might question if indeed a piece like the one below, presented in its entirely, even qualifies as a poem.
…It’s always easier,
Said than done …
But Murray, as I’ve learned, is an individualist when it comes to style and practises re: contemporary poetry. For one thing, his work is unedited, and this is evident in poems with spelling mistakes like the ones in “When You Went Away,” where he writes: “The lights are shinning,/The lights are shinning,/Down on you.”
Several of the poems ask questions, ie: “How are things supposed to look up,/If I’m always looking down?”, “Why do we look at one thing,/And say it’s something else?” and “Why do some minutes feel like days,/And some days feel like minutes?” There’s even one poem—aptly titled “Questions”—that contains only questions, five of them, presented in couplets and ending with “If you could go anywhere,/where would you go?”
This young writer is at his best when he includes concrete images (“When a window is needed,/Put down the bricks,/Grab some glass,/It’s an easy fix”) and metaphor (“I’m a lonely lighthouse”). Many of the poems with repeated lines could be set to music.
There’s much searching across these pages—for love, a home, and for recognition. One hopes the narrator will eventually find what he’s looking for, and take his own advice: “You need to quit searching for things you don’t have,/Quit living in the future, quit living in the past./It’s all about the things you do have.”
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