Friday, December 9, 2016



Forty-One Jane Doe’s by Carrie Olivia Adams
(Ahsahta Press, Boise, ID, 2013)

Forty-One Jane Doe’s is adult writing in the sense of its accomplishment. It is accompanied by a DVD which features the “explanation” of three standout poems in the book. When I say explanation, I mean to say that the short films Ms. Adams has put together for this book, at the same time amateurish and splendidly poignant, present imagery that explains the works in such a way as to thoroughly encourage you to delve deeper into the text.

Forty-One Jane Doe’s is, quoting from Ms. Adams bio, “named for a drink at The Violet Hour, my favorite cocktail bar in all the world, not just my world in Chicago.” The accompanying DVD covers three of the book’s nine poems. Forty-One Jane Doe’s begins with the poem "A Mystery Story." This is a different kind of subject than you might usually read. The heroine and the detective mirror one another in a way: while one is working against the other you feel there is a bit of sexual tension against the other and it calls to memory the song by the musical group The Police, “Every Breath You Take.” The pursuit, here, is through an intellectual hunt or chase that borders on obsession. Ms. Adams writes, “That scratching over her shoulder, / that boney beak against pavement -/ She is not alone here, seeking/ or other.” This is an excellent poem as a pursuit. Ms. Adams writes later in the poem,

There is a saintly service
She holds on her tongue.
The tongue weighs it.

It was the idea that held you there.

You read a lot of books of poetry when you’re a poet yourself. Some will move you and some will not. But I love the ones where you can’t read a page without wanting to write some poetry of your own because this writer inspires you that much. Carrie Olivia Adams is just such a writer. In the next section of the book, "Pandora’s Star Box," Ms. Adam’s writes,

“Yes, I am ashamed to spend time worrying about the stars burning themselves into darkness. Perhaps it is because everything else has already fallen. I have had a hand in it. No amount of dipping into lakes and seas has drowned that.”

In the poem "Voice Made Small," Ms. Adams writes, “Your voice becomes water again.” This is a fantastic albeit too short poem, for the simple reason that you want to read more—something you can say about almost all of e. e. cumming's poems. This poem closes the book so I won’t explain how it ends. Forty-One Jane Doe’s is the complete package.


Chris Mansel  is a writer, filmmaker, epileptic, musician, photographer and a permanent outsider for some reason. He is the author of While in Exile: The Savage Tale of Walter Seems, Soddoma: The Cantos of Ulysses, Ashes of Thoreau, Interviews and two books of photography entitled, No Burden and Ahisma. Along with Jake Berry, he formed the band Impermanence who have released one album, Arito. He releases music under the name dilapidation Impromptu who have released four albums. His writing and reviews has been published on the web in many sources including The Experioddicist and Galatea Resurrects.

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