Jay Ladin,
Alternatives to History
(Sheep Meadow, 2003)

This slim volume caught my attention instantly with the eclectic mixture of truth, beauty and humour. I thoroughly enjoyed Alternatives to History, a collection of poetry by Jay Ladin, and can do no better in reviewing it than to share some of my favourite excerpts with the reader without reproducing the entire work.

"Snails" is the one that first caught my attention with the opening lines, "Little more than water with horns/Only the barest wafer of bone." Only a poet could begin to describe such creatures with these words. "Rehab" has the beautiful line, "My father taught a one armed man to run a forklift." This is lovely because -- much as we may enjoy Wordsworth on daffodils or Keats on urns -- real poetry is about real people.

The title poem takes interesting looks at such diverse items as "Lives of the Saints," "The War" and "Crusades," among others. Each gives much food for thought ... as good poetry should. "The Old God at the Urinal" may initially appear blasphemous, but it is certainly worth a read. "Part IV - The Situation" concentrates on the Middle East and its problems and is probably the deepest of the sections in the book.

This book is worth seeking out as it has poems that that will make you laugh, think and feel. What more can you want of a book?

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 31 January 2004

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