Book Review: Just J’Rie, poetry by J’Rie B. Elliott

[Reviewed by Michael Widman]

A pink rose on the glossy cover on Just J’Rie, poetry by J’Rie B. Elliott, leads my mind to matters of romance, but that rose deceives by its looks. Likewise, the backside text on the little booklet from PublishAmerica that I keep on my desk since yesterday speaks about style (romance to patriotic with rhyme and rhythm, it says), but these assurances bear little meaning to me since I don’t buy books to satisfy my need for style.

In contrast, the message and the literary devices by which Elliott conveys it, matters more. I am therefore glad to find that Elliott’s poetry instantly connects to me. I have never come across any other poetry like hers. Her honest and straightforward presentation speaks to my simple mind in spite of the fact that I’m a man, who is only moderately interested in romance.

Elliott practices a sort of poetic reasoning that impresses me as clever. Her ways with words interest me much more than any experimentation with style would because she reasons about what it means to love.

Romance in Elliott’s hands calls the needs of the heart rather than the needs of romantic style.

I wish to expose below Elliott’s reasoning a bit since I believe her words can be of value for all kinds of readers.

A caveat: Elliott’s book reflects religious beliefs, but your reviewer is not a particularly religious man. Fortunately, religious faith is not required in order to enjoy Elliott’s poetry, although faith in humans helps. Anyway, beware that my personal opinion is imperfectly informed in religious matters.

I have read every one of Elliott’s fifty-six poems. Together they illuminate from different angles the needs of the heart. Serious reflection on the needs of the heart and the mind excites me.

Michael Widman may be reached at widmanm5@comcast.net.

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I flew like an albatross through Elliott’s book. Her verse enables delightful reading that flows without snags.

Three men appear in Just J’Rie: Her husband, her father, and her grandfather. I cannot help comparing these three men to each other. The grandfather comes alive most vividly. He seems to have been a sensitive man. For example, in “I have a story to tell the poet tells how she as a child could make her grandpa laugh, that he always wore the same old hat, that he could cry, and that he acted bravely when he got sick.

I can not recall if any poem in the collection describes the poet’s husband in similar specific details. He, as well as the father has general rather than specific qualities. For example, Elliott describes her husband as strong and handsome, and he knows what needs to be done.

Which brings me to the poet’s problem: It’s not a problem with her poetry, but a physical problem. She needs her husband’s person closer.

No less than eleven poems in Just J’Rie deal with the poet’s loneliness. Waking alone through a night is not an incidental inconvenience to her, but a central concern. Loneliness eats the poet away if I may judge. “My heart is always breaking when we are far apart,” she writes in “A Divine Request,” and she elaborates unmistakably in one poem after the other on how badly she suffers from being alone. I feel that something urgently should be done about it.

Elliott’s father worked far away. Her husband travels a lot on business. Elliott suffers loneliness caused by absent men, a pattern that has lasted for two generations, no doubt warranted by necessity, but still… It’s cruel to keep the heart’s needs unsatisfied. Her loneliness wakes the reasonable idea that lovers are supposed to spend time together, as Grandma and Grandpa John and Vera Blackwell were doing. They appear ideal.

The pain that gripes the heart when this ideal is not met is what’s Just J’Rie is about.

J’Rie B. Elliott convinces me through her poetic reasoning. In fifty-six sinuous poems, simple so that even a man can understand them, she makes the case that love requires that husband and wife spend time together. I cannot help but thinking that the man who claims to know what has to be done about things also needs to consider his wife’s pain seriously and not resort to excuses and explanations.

Elliott succeeds in pleading the heart’s needs in sensible ways that make listening to her supplication effortless.

I flew like an albatross through Blackwell-Elliott’s book. Her verse enables delightful reading that flows without snags.

Three men appear in Just J’Rie: Her husband, her father, and her grandfather. I cannot help comparing these three men to each other. The grandfather comes alive most vividly. He seems to have been a sensitive man. For example, in “I have a story to tell the poet tells how she as a child could make her grandpa laugh, that he always wore the same old hat, that he could cry, and that he acted bravely when he got sick.

I can not recall if any poem in the collection describes the poet’s husband in similar specific details. He, as well as the father has general rather than specific qualities. For example, Blackwell-Elliott describes her husband as strong and handsome, and he knows what needs to be done.

Which brings me to the poet’s problem: It’s not a problem with her poetry, but a physical problem. She needs her husband’s person closer.

No less than eleven poems in Just J’Rie deal with the poet’s loneliness. Waking alone through a night is not an incidental inconvenience to her, but a central concern. Loneliness eats the poet away if I may judge. “My heart is always breaking when we are far apart,” she writes in “A Divine Request,” and she elaborates unmistakably in one poem after the other on how badly she suffers from being alone. I feel that something urgently should be done about it.

Blackwell-Elliott’s father worked far away. Her husband travels a lot on business. Blackwell-Elliott suffers loneliness caused by absent men, a pattern that has lasted for two generations, no doubt warranted by necessity, but still… It’s cruel to keep the heart’s needs unsatisfied. Her loneliness wakes the reasonable idea that lovers are supposed to spend time together, as Grandma and Grandpa John and Vera Blackwell were doing. They appear ideal.

The pain that gripes the heart when this ideal is not met is what’s Just J’Rie is about.

J’Rie Blackwell-Elliott convinces me through her poetic reasoning. In fifty-six sinuous poems, simple so that even a man can understand them, she makes the case that love requires that husband and wife spend time together. I cannot help but thinking that the man who claims to know what has to be done about things also needs to consider his wife’s pain seriously and not resort to excuses and explanations.

Blackwell-Elliott succeeds in pleading the heart’s needs in sensible ways that make listening to her supplication effortless. <-->

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