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Something Real

30 pages
6” x 9” saddle-stapled glossy
First Edition
Flutter Press
Available HERE
Review by Nicole Tone

When reading through Harry Calhoun’s Something Real, I was struck by the sense of loss that is palpable throughout the entire collection. In what seems to span (in a nonlinear) year, we’re reading not just about a journey through accepting death, but also about understanding that there may be no answer to our question of “why?” Starting with “Forever, under the mailbox,” we’re introduced to this time in the narrator’s life that shudders with sadness:

The frigid February night he passed we shared
a few pretzels, amazing because he had given up.

Beyond the journey through loss, I was pulled in by the physical change in Calhoun’s poems. In the beginning of the collection, the poems are short and simple, but as we progress through the narrator’s year-long journey, they grow in length and the break points are minimal. In “Heart,” the longest in this collection, the narrator looks back on a moment from his boyhood—at a time when everyone felt invincible. While “Heart” was all golds and sunshine

and everything outside is splendid golden, with sun rays
precious as any last grasp[,]

the next poem, “Scribbled on the back of another poem about insomnia,” follows the form of the beginning of the collection, but is set in the middle of a winter night: in cold grays and blues. Where “Heart” also looked back fondly at boyhood memories, “Scribbled” is stuck in the mortality of the narrator’s current life:

but it hurts to see and experience my father’s death
and it’s almost here and so am I, halfheartedly writing it out.

The poems that will stay with me out of this collection, though, came at the end. Again, we have a juxtaposition of gold and gray, of life and death. In “Night cloud,” the narrator gives thanks for his black Lab, for his calmness and his reminder that life is happening. The last poem, appropriately named, “The last last poem,” is the shortest of the poems, but the most striking in its finality:

and brings death
one drink

It has been a while since I’ve read a collection of poems that has stayed with me the way Something Real has. It was both a pleasure, and an honor, reading Mr. Calhoun’s work.

Nicole Tone has her BA in Creative Writing and Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and is working toward her MFA in Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. In her free time, she is an editorial intern for REUTS Publications and the Industry News Coordinator for the Women Fiction Writers Association. You can follow her on Twitter at @nicoleatone or visit her website at nicoleatone.com.

• This book was submitted to Alternating Current by the author. The reviewer does not know the author and received the book from Alternating Current at random. • Permalink • Tag: The Volt •

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