Review by Kara L.C. Jones

Look, No Hands!
by Clair Killen
Published by Many Names Press
ISBN 0-9652575-8-4
Retail $11.00

Where to start?

This collection is amazing. Killen's depth and breath of subject matter, talent, and perspective are unlike anything I've seen in a poetry collection. His works are raw, honest, real, funny, introspective, eclectic, stunning. This whole collection -- from the "Private Show" of strip-tease poetry to the "Year End" of facing your life & death -- is just the most well-crafted poetry with no airs of that weird poet arrogance you see so often these days. Killen's got me lock, stock, and barrel!

As I read this book, I marked pages where there was a poem that I wanted to highlight in this review. The collection is 90 pages. I have probably 50 pages marked. So while I'm going to talk a bit about some of my favorite bits and pieces here, *please* get yourself a copy of this book and just read it!!! That's the only way you are going to truly understand what I'm rambling about here.

So for me personally, I always have an eye toward pieces that acknowledge the real life loss & healing that happens to us everyday on this planet. And this collection scopes it all out for us! Sometimes it is a large grief that comes to visit, as when Killen writes about his granddaughter's death in "Rhonda" -- this piece is three stanzas that very poignantly tell you how the death of a child affects a family *forever*!! Sometimes it's an everyday letting-go that changes our perspective, as when Killen writes about his sister giving him a "Priceless Gift" of sculpture she's made. Killen asks her how she can give up her favorite piece so easily:

She looked at me and laughed,
"I have twenty better ones I haven't done yet."

The whole collection presents the reality of everyday events with this poetic view that makes the everyday into revelations, opening, acceptance, motivation to really look honestly at our lives. "A Day on Twenty-Third Street" is an extraordinary morning that is not so much unlike a morning for any of us. "Summer Writers In Iowa City" is a FABULOUSLY understated yet pointed look at creative writers within the academic structure! "My 'Dance Russe' for William Carlos Williams" is a beautiful tribute to another great poet. "Alone" is tenderly honest and heartbreakingly real. "Another Love Story" is so funny and real and raw and so similar to a few of my own experiences along the way!

Bottom line: I just think you all need to get a copy of this book and read it! I plan to do my "editor's duty" and contact Killen to see if we can publish a few of these pieces in our next issue of the KotaPress Poetry Journal. But even that will just be a flavor. You need to read the whole thing!

And to finish off this review, I'm going to go ahead and share one of the poems from this collection. This piece "It Was Worth It" was the poem that hooked me completely. Killen had my eye with the other pieces, with his perspectives on grief, loss, reality, love, etc., but this piece caught me completely and totally and convinced me to do a review of the whole collection. This piece made me giggle uncontrollably and my husband guffawed right out loud. Getting my hands on a copy of this book and doing this review (to convince you to go out and get a copy, too) was indeed WORTH IT!!! Enjoy!

It Was Worth It
by Clair Killen

I tripped on the sidewalk edge,
crashed down in front of the library,
books, compact disks everywhere.
My knuckles, knees and elbows

slid on rough cement. People
stopped, asked if I was ok.
It's embarrassing to be old,
a giveaway of changing conditions.

I said I was fine, got up,
tried not to limp, laughed as I
visualized the lead-up events.

Out of my car I crossed the grass
and there before me two young
women walking with outstanding
breasts in tight sleeveless sweaters.

As they moved away, my eyes
followed two divine pairs
of round cheeks held
lovingly in tight blue jeans.

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