Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Murray Silverstein's Master of Leaves

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Murray Silverstein's Master of Leaves

Article excerpt

Murray Silverstein's Master of Leaves Sixteen Rivers Press (2014) ISBN-13: 978-1-939639-05-9

This is a primarily free-verse poetry collection, which mixes different stanza lengths (two lines to a single stanza in a poem), line-lengths, meters, and some occasional rhyming patterns with both narrative and lyrical poetic styles. The subjects of these poems are as varied as the styles, with reflections on Monet's paintings, religion and mythology, drying laundry, songs about the rain, and about an old fellow who's whistling in the locker room.

The cover design uses a yellow-red pallet of lenses over simple black and white lines. In the title, the word "Master" is stressed in all-capital letters, while "of Leaves" is italic and looks like a couple of thin autumn leaves, like the ones on the cover, flying off the page. The author's name is in thin black letters that blend with the speckled black lines around them, as if the author is hiding in the leaves. The book is printed with McNaughton & Gunn, and they did an interesting flap for this paperback that few of the bigger printers do for their softcovers. Every element of the interior and cover design is sharp and well thought-out.

American poetry is currently in its absurdist movement. Most poets setup a mystery and never offer a resolution in the end. In this particular collection, for example, the poem, "All Aboard" begins with the repeated phrase, "It's raining," and ends with, "Good, you'll learn-and rain is its blessing, tonight/ this rain-good, you'll say, it'sgoin' good" The first stanza of this poem notes in passing, "meaning the mystery of you." While earlier romantic and transcendental poems attempted to offer a moral or a transcending meaning in a short flash that is available in the length of a poem, modern poets just offer the flash in its beauty or ugliness and leave out an explanation for why it's flashing, and frequently the flash isn't even fully described, as something flashes and then fades, or flashes and then runs along or falls down, at random. …

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