Beret, Me

Juke James Esq.
Other Publications (
ISBN: 978-0-946-0-57795

Reviewed by Alice Lenkiewicz

Juke’s anthology of poems is a collection that is quite conventional in terms of use of language, although from a personal viewpoint could be considered ‘radical’. The poems observe such themes as: 'Place', 'Addiction', 'Capitalism', 'Love' and ‘Religion'.

I found the collection quite easy and fluid to read. The emphasis tended to be primarily on content. In terms of form and layout, each poem is centred down the middle of the page and either written in one continual stanza or divided into two or six stanzas. The poems range from free verse - e.g. ‘The Professional’ - to rhyming and repetition as in the poem 'A Kiss on the Mouth'.

You’re too intense
You’re very deep
You’re far too serious
And you never sleep

Alliteration is used frequently to create some nice sound effects as in: 'Soap stars, Irish bars, the FCUK concept of self' (p.15). Some interesting traditional techniques arise such as assonance and simile as in: 'Exhaling plumes of loud, blue laughter' (p.22).

I confess I am not too fond of the use of pronouns at the beginning of the lines in a poem but I noticed Juke used them so often that it seemed to me that they became a significant part of the language.

I think the main success of the collection would be the writer’s ability to communicate the meaning. Juke uses a strong confidant voice, in some poems such as 'NOMANDOG' (Black, White & Grey), his poems at times trailing between personal feeling and becoming quite didactic at times. I wasn’t too happy with singular gender use of the word 'man' (a bit archaic not only as a discourse but also in terms of language) being used in this poem. Even so, his poems came across clear and unambiguous.

The drawings by artist John O’Neill were of a woodcut effect, similar to the turn of 20th century expressionists. I enjoyed these drawings for their ambiguity and experimentation. Overall, a readable collection of poems and visual art.

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