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Eye Level (1977): How’s the Weather Up There?

Jane Shore, Eye Level (U. Massachusetts, 1977)

[originally posted 14Jun2001]

A photograph of the author adorns the book cover.

A dream in the eye and the dirt beneath the heel.
photo credit: UPNE

Winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, this little volume was Jane Shore’s first. She’s published three more since then (as of this writing), and still hasn’t even achieved the fame of such unknowns outside the poetry world as Jorie Graham and Gjertrud Schackenberg, both recent winners of major (well, for poetry) prizes. This points to something being wrong with the universe, as Shore’s work can easily hold a candle to the upper echelons of that being written by the talented today.

Shore’s work is deep, reflective, but still more accessible than most poets who write in the “academic” style; these are poems that are about the great truths, all right, but there’s an easier-to-grok level above that deals in the day-to-day things of our existence, and the one doesn’t have to be grasped to make sense of the other.

Because we landed on the moon, all Americans
can walk a little taller.
Planting our carpet roll of flags,
one for each state in the Union!
I feel so proud of my own Garden State
with vegetables stitched onto the blue field
of sky instead of stars.
(from “An Astronaut’s Journal”)

If you could smirk at that bit, you should be fine with the whole book. A small, unrecognized gem. ****


About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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