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Desultory Sonnets

November 22, 2016


Winner, 2016 Turtle Island Poetry Award.


According to Roger Mitchell, author of Lemon Peeled the Moment Before, “Ted Jean is the kind of poet who pulls off the road in his truck to write a poem about the universe. With its faint echoes of Snyder and Ammons, the world of these sonnets is at once immediate and distant, thick with ‘corporeality’ and light with the long view. If the void is never far away, its antechamber is such, as in ‘Deep Weed Theory,’ that the ‘transit,’ as he calls living, is one from ‘heaven to Heaven.’ These poems extend not just the language but our sense of what it is to be.”


John Rosenwald has this to say: “In Ted Jean’s Desultory Sonnets I love the poet’s love of color, beginning with the ‘quince branch’ now ‘blazing’ in a verbal corsage of coral, white, red, blue, and green, moving quickly in ‘Regarding wife’ to the ‘lightly burnished white gold skin’ whose description transcends the ‘simply yellow’ often assigned to Chinese women, to the bloom of a rhododendron’s ‘truncated stump,’ to the hues and ‘varied minerality’ of ‘ancient gravel.’ These colors, these simple complexities that might be ‘ugly…unless…you sit and watch awhile’ make him, and should perhaps make us all, start to ‘choke…up,’ to realize we are not ‘any kind of martyr’ but instead ‘in transit, in fact, from heaven to Heaven.’ Yet this is no neo-Romanticism, simple in either concept or language. Just as Ted Jean’s sonnets travel between fourteen-line quasi-iambic slant-rhymed constructions to seventeen-line assemblages visually resembling whirling tops, his vision ranges from simple weeds to modern physics, as Stephen Hawking, the ‘hawking eorl / hankered by his unblindered bird,’ moves across the ‘eternity of darkness’ that lies between ‘the leaf being bright / and light again.’ What a whirlwind of poetry!”


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Ted Jean

Ted Jean is a carpenter who also writes, paints, and plays tennis with lovely Amy Lee. His work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, [PANK], DIAGRAM, Juked, Gargoyle, Magma, and dozens of other publications.