Prau by Jean Vengua
(Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2007)
The poetry of Jean Vengua’s PRAU is an arrangement of contrasting language in various forms whose effect elicits distinct imagery, emotions, and even primeval responses. Her (mis-)use of structure, capitals and punctuation often throws us off the trail of the search for the standard metaphor. Add her delving of alternate spellings and a non-conservative use of line spacing with strategically placed gaps in the verse, as well as the use of multiple fonts and even the very shape of the paragraph, and the reader’s basic visual perception is feverishly discombobulated and then gently coaxed into a direction of the poet’s choosing. There are at times a single crossed out word or whole cache of them are left lingering on the page to influence us in a ‘what might have been’ direction of the piece.
Her single word stanzas and contradictory full out prose imagery both prove capable of displaying a warmth that brings you into close proximity of the writer herself as it draws you into the work. Often her dedications cause speculation as to how she and they are linked, at times they seem like they could be simply innocent bystanders, but occasionally these names appear to be clues integral to the poems fundamental goal that will remain a mystery to us the uninitiated. Her use of traditional nature symbols to describe elusive scenarios in a very tangible and physical way demonstrates her capability in rendering contrasting principles with each other to fulfill the instilling of a peculiar concrete concept. Vengua’s "The Problems (2)", wonderfully portrays the pessimistic view that nothing is new, and yet confirms also that we all instinctively know when to piece together from nothing the seemingly unconnected parts of a puzzle that in fact creates something new, just like her work.
Here is a sample poem [Editor’s note: in the book, this poem’s text is shown as quad-centered on the page, not reproducible here in Blogger format]:
vale of tears
Brett Duchon was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1967. He lives in Chiba, Japan with his wife Michi. ”I am a painter, ceramicist, poet, martial artist, teacher with scholarly pursuits in both the arcane and the blasé."