I admit it: I’m a sucker for quotable poems. However, like any good piece of writing, I don’t think they amount to much if they’re only quotable–that is, if they read like a loosely sewn tapestry of snappy one-liners. Meaningful poetry requires a bit more, and whatever that transcending ingredient is, you’ll find it in the poetry of CL Bledsoe. These poems are eminently quotable, sure, but that’s not because the poet is trying to sound sassy at the ongoing porch-party that is publishing.  No, these poems are quotable because they’re crafted, deliberate, and … well, just plain good!

From the gritty, war-time narrative of “Tea” to the subtle humor and imaginative leaps of “Etiquette,” “Hair,” and my personal favorite, “How to Recycle a Farm Truck,” Bledsoe eschews pretension (not to mention words like “eschew”) while still producing work that feels relevant, philosophical, and fun. There’s a social consciousness here, artfully balanced with disarming lines like Windows are optional and may be replaced / with black garbage bags.

C.L. Bledsoe is also proof that while there’s certainly nothing wrong with devoting oneself to a single genre, there’s also something to be said for writers (like Bledsoe, and other favorites of mine like Justin Hamm, Marge Piercy, Kim Addonizio, Stephen Dobyns, and Djelloul Marbrook) who manage to spin multiple plates at once, and look graceful doing it.

Photo By: Joan Hernandez