In Print

Jane Brown has much to say

By Russell Hoxsie - February 16, 2006

"Breaking Through," by Jane Brown. Tisbury Printer. 2005. $15, paper. 46 pages.

Jane Brown's second book of poetry since early 2003 fuses two significant periods of life: the first, "Home at Last" and the second, "Breaking Through." After returning to her family home in Oak Bluffs, she has become free to share her life more fully with her friends and readers in the intimate act of writing poems. She finds comfort, a sense of belonging and heightened self-confidence, as she grows older. She now ascends to the status of neo-octogenarian with much remaining to tell. Janet Holladay at Tisbury Printer has again designed a clean and welcoming book with strategic illustrations by longtime Brown collaborator in poetry Virginia Gosselin, and a cover design by Marion Strauss, which illustrates Brown's unique title poem.

How can I write an objective review of this new book? I like Jane Brown and her poetry so much; her delicate crisp metaphors define her life whether more delightful or more dreadful than actuality may be. She is a mature woman who has recently come "Home at Last" and is now "Breaking Through" her special barriers. However, she retains her qualities of a much younger woman, even a girl, when she smiles or demurs with eyes averted. She sounds like a rebel when she stiffens to say, "I like my line the way it is!" Her poems are filled with her friends and family, squirrels, chickadees, wrens, wood peckers, her dog Megan, beaches and sea, early spring plants thrusting up to the sun and autumn oak leaves on the street in front of her house gathered about a pool of rain which for a time reflects living leaves from above. Read "Sea Smoke" and watch while, "wreathed in smoke/ boats steer careful ways to sea." In the quiet of "The Core" one sees Jane as she "sat in Meeting ... watched leaves toss in the breeze ... A stream flows/ tumultuous/ over rocks and shoals ..."I know the river has a central core ... I'll wade there."

And then there is the young girl who shines through in "Maple Key." So delightful are her child's anticipation and her "great delight;" how appalling is her "child's shame" at harsh criticism. And then the author rescues us by commencing the path back to equilibrium as she queries the fairies for truth! Poetry is mostly a personal craft, the divulging of a secret life or the laying bare of one's defenses. The poet becomes more vulnerable with each line, yet vulnerability is often the meat of the work and its endearing quality. Jane Brown succeeds on both these counts.

An Unfinished Season by Ward Just

Ready, set, read!
Ward Just's "An Unfinished Season" and Marjane Strapi's "Persepolis" are this year's One Book, One Island selections. Vineyard librarians and booksellers solicited votes from local readers during January and announced the winners earlier this month. Events based on the books will be held during the last week of April. Organizers are hoping to schedule an author talk with each of the writers, and other activities will be held as well.

"An Unfinished Season," by local author Ward Just, is set in Chicago in the 1950s, and follows the story of 19-year old Wilson Ravan as he comes of age through his newspaper work, glamorous social life, and poignant family dramas. "Persepolis," the young readers' selection, is a memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

To make it more convenient for Vineyarders to read the selections, Island libraries will carry multiple copies of the books. In addition, The Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown Books, and Sun Porch Books in Oak Bluffs will sell both titles at 30 percent off.