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Review of Barry George’s Wrecking Ball and Other Urban Haiku

April 1, 2010 by · No comments

Debra Fox

Wrecking Ball and Other Urban Haiku_frontcover_sm

It is Barry George’s palpable regard for the cast of characters who inhabit the urban landscape in his haiku collection, Wrecking Ball and Other Urban Haiku, that makes it so powerful. Whether he is describing a conductor, a window washer, an accused teen, or a homeless man, George suggests they are all deserving of contemplation. One can imagine George as he walks about the city, noticing its trappings, filing them away, like tiny treasures in his pockets, until he has a quiet moment to lay them out on his kitchen table for further exploration. His ability to make a wrecking ball seem majestic, and a French general seem humble, evince his mastery of juxtaposition.

Lee Gurga, himself an award-winning haiku poet, once said that a great haiku describes an experience that passes first through the poet’s heart. In his poem,

wearing glasses now—
the homeless man

George tenderly observes one of society’s castaways. It is George’s ability to describe such a quiet, poignant moment against the backdrop of a bustling, unnoticing city that distinguishes him as a great poet. One gets the sense that he sees the beauty in the downtrodden, the allure of refuse.

This collection of poetry is a reminder that there is an unlikely grace that pervades urban living, if only we could all slow down and take notice. I plan to carry this book with me in my purse for whenever I have a quiet moment and want to be inspired.

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