Monday, March 16, 2015
Blue Yodel by Ansel Elkins, Carl Phillips
I received a review copy of this book thanks to Netgalley and its publisher.
“Originated in 1919 to showcase the works of exceptional American poets under the age of forty, the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award presented in the United States. Ansel Elkins’s poetry collection, Blue Yodel, is the 109th volume to be so honored. Esteemed poet and competition judge Carl Phillips praises Elkins for her “arresting use of persona,” calling her poems “razor-edged in their intelligence, Southern Gothic in their sensibility.”
In her imaginative and haunting debut collection, Elkins introduces readers to a multitude of characters whose “otherness” has condemned them to live on the margins of society. She weaves blues, ballads, folklore, and storytelling into an intricate tapestry that depicts the violence, poverty, and loneliness of the Deep South, as well as the compassion, generosity, and hope that brings light to people in their darkest times. The blue yodel heard throughout this diverse compilation is a raw, primal, deeply felt expression of the human experience, calling on us to reach out to the isolated and disenfranchised and to find the humanity in every person.” –Goodreads
After finishing the first poem, I felt something. I don’t know whether it was shock, joy, terror, or fright but it was something. I’ve only ever once had this happen to me. Poetry isn’t usually the kind of material I read, but this was something different. These poems told stories and those stories meant something. The words created vivid images in my mind that I can’t fully describe. A good lot of the poems had religious ties and that didn’t bother me, even though I am not religious. It wasn’t overly forward with the aspect of religion but rather incorporated the tales of it in a manner that can be enjoyed by anyone.
However, a few of the poems lacked what I would call ‘the umph factor.’ They were just kind of there. This is why I am rating this book a 4/5 stars. It was a truly wonderful read and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in poetry or is just curious. I loved this book very much and am urging people to read it because it is truly awe inspiring.