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C. J. Stevens

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Member Since: Aug, 2000

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Publisher:  John Wade, Publisher ISBN-10:  1882425197


Copyright:  Oct 3 2002

John Wade Publishing

A gathering from five previous books: Beginnings and Other Poems, Circling at the Chain's Length, Hang-Ups, Selected Poems, and Shepherd Without Sheep.

    The Barn

The universe
is just the place
to get lost in.
A big old barn.
Dark. Forsaken.
It took courage
to build that one.
And the lumber!
Just think of it!
All those black boards
and star-shaped nails.




Professional Reviews

Collected Poems - C. J. Stevens
One thing he does better than anyone else I know is incisive, sympathetic, moving portraits of persons outside of himself.

Ron Schreiber - Margins

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Reader Reviews for "Collected Poems (1962-2002)"

Reviewed by Michelle Mills 5/22/2005
I discovered CJ Stevens' work through the poetry he posted on his website. I found myself hungry to read more and more. This is a volume that doesn't disappoint the reader for a moment. It's a beautiful, sensitive collection that takes note of the simplest details often overlooked by the human eye, and brings them to a place of importance. It was a privilege to read. Michelle Close Mills
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 7/22/2004
C. J. Stevens Collected Poems
Book Review

Library Journal, Booklist, Canadian Forum, Mississippi Review, and numerous noteworthy individuals on the literary scene have praised C. J. Stevens Collected Poems in elegant words and phrases that reflect their deep admiration of his work. I won’t attempt to compete with these exemplary wordsmiths. I will just say that when this book arrived at my home, I sat down with it, and except for a few very necessary and very short breaks, I didn’t leave it until I had read every one of its 222 pages.

I found his style to be very different from my own poetic endeavors, yet completely absorbing. Rhyme isn’t a characteristic of his poetry, just exquisite word choices that silkily spin a unique animated blend of anthropomorphism and its inverse. When he turns his pen to interesting characters of his childhood, we get pictures painted with objects:

“And there was
Hattie Farrington — a feather
drifting with the breeze;
drifting through the ironwork
of another battered day,

Now when a songbird
huddles on an bough,
and the immigrant wind
with its alien tongue coaxes
the bird to drop
a feather,

we think of
Hattie Farrington and say:
the softness of a feather
on the new snow was truly
Hattie’s way. Bless
the shape of this morning.”

When he turns his eye towards objects of the earth — barns, cups, fingers, cornstalks, hills, parsnips — a parade of people go marching by. Not just any people, but those with compellingly arresting features and character. Consider his take on cabbages:

“These are the hard-
headed sentries of Gurney’s
militia—a squad
of ruffians in bivouac
all summer.

Though they
meet the reveille of
the sun with their britches
rumpled and with the smell
of sauerkraut upon
their breath, they are
more soldierly than radish
or cauliflower.

They won’t
be softened by the first
white thrust of bayoneting frost.

But they are vulnerable
In the war of hunger.
Too easily outflanked and gnawed
by marauders, they still
carry on. Heroes
every one. And versatile
as Swiss chard.”

C. J. has an incisively sensitive eye for the details that would never be cataloged by most of us. He has a deft way of bringing them to our attention that is pleasing and intriguing, reflecting a delightful mix of the New England provincial and European erudition. I am happy to recommend this work to anyone who would like to enjoy an evening — or years — of very remarkable poetic accomplishment.

© 2004 R. Leland Waldrip

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