Review of A fortune cookie tree of content.

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Brendan Donaghy
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Review of A fortune cookie tree of content.

Post by Brendan Donaghy »

[Following is an official review of "A fortune cookie tree of content." by Charlie Knowlton.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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A fortune cookie tree of content is a revised edition of poet Charlie Knowlton’s recent book And the words you put down will be magic, reviewed on this site in August. This edition consists of two sections. The first section contains thirty-nine poems, while the second section contains a dozen or so pages of untitled haiku and senryu poems. In total, the book is sixty pages long. So, how does this edition differ from the first version?

The first notable difference is that the title has been changed. The new title is a line lifted from the poem ‘Date night’, arguably one of the strongest poems in the collection. This edition also contains three poems more than the first one. That happens because five new poems have been added to the collection while two from the previous edition have been dropped. There are smaller changes, too. Titles have been amended, lines have been reordered and words have been changed here and there. More noticeably, perhaps, the author has also taken the opportunity to weed out errors present in the old edition.

Straightaway, I liked the look of this collection more than the previous one. That’s because the author has removed the speech marks from around the poem titles, something that gave the last edition a somewhat cluttered look. He’s also corrected many of the other little errors that marred the first edition. The power of the poetry remains unchanged, however. His love and reverence for nature shine through, nowhere more so than in two of the new poems, ‘It’s summer and it’s pleasing’ and ‘Late August in the kingdom.’ The kingdom he describes in the latter is the place where he lives, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. It’s clear to see he’s attached to its seasonal rhythms: ‘Morning mist over Molly’s / lifts an August gold haze. / Crossing hayfields of Danville, / Cabot’s meadows and maze.’ (Page 46)

The other new poems show different sides to this writer. In ‘A well drained whodunnit’ and ‘You‘ve been chopped,’ he gives rein to his humorous impulses. The final new poem in the collection, ‘A 59 Chevy, Riverside park, and those Manchonis road blues,’ catches the author when he’s having a bad day. The poem’s reference points suggest that this might have been some time in the past.

The small issues that I didn’t like about the first edition have been removed from this one, so there is nothing for me to gripe about this time. I can’t comment on any production issues or the quality of the cover, as I was reading a PDF copy. I do hope that the author manages to match the quality of the first edition when he publishes this one; the cover of that was very stylish.

I am pleased to award this book four out of four stars. The author has made subtle changes to this edition that have improved it, including the editing. I found fewer than a handful of minor errors this time around. The book will appeal to those who enjoy poetry that ranges in tone from wonder at the beauty of nature to a more humorous consideration of life.

A fortune cookie tree of content.
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Post by Prisallen »

It certainly sounds as though the changes were all positive and improved the original edition. However, poetry is not my first choice of books to read. Therefore, I will probably pass on it. Thanks for an excellent review!
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