Monday, January 5, 2009


GuestGuest blogger J.E. Stanley
weighs in on our very own Joshua Gage’s “breaths”.

by Joshua Gage
Cover Photo by Rosann Gage; Cover Design by Heidi Della Pesca
(vanZeno Press,

In “breaths,”
Joshua Gage shows his respect for traditional haiku yet manages to transcend that tradition by infusing his work with a modern, urban sensibility. Nature and neon, snowfall and cigarette ash exist side by side in this unflinching look at present-day life.

Modern haiku writers strive to place their images and ideas into profound juxtapositions such that the poem implies more and, in fact, becomes more than the sum of its parts. Gage is one of only a very few with the ability to do this exceptionally well. Consider the following excerpt:

our son in Iraq
wasps build a nest
in the mailbox

The depth of the book is further enhanced by the inclusion of recurring themes and images viewed from differing perspectives. Love and sensuality, the moon, the lake (Erie in this case, although not specifically named), the uneasy merging of civilization and the wild are woven throughout and viewed from fresh angles in the same way filmmaker might add depth by shooting his scenes from alternate points of view.

“breaths” is filled with original images but also permeated with moments to which nearly everyone can relate. Consider “the sound of rush hour / a deer grazes / in my front yard” for example.

This is an essential book of keen insights that reveals additional layers with each rereading and it comes very highly recommended.

Reviewed by J.E. Stanley.


J.E. Stanley said...

I just received this in an email from Brunswick Art Works:

Please join us for the next (free) Brunswick Art Works poetry reading this coming Thursday, January 8th. Our featured reader is Joshua Gage:

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from the southside. His chapbook, Deep Cleveland Lenten Blues, is available on Deep Cleveland Press, and his first full length collection, breaths, is available on VanZeno Press. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour.

Time: 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Location: Insights Coffee & More, 1661 Pearl Road, Brunswick OH 44212
(1/4 mile south of Rts 42 & 303/Pearl & Center Rds)
Dress: Casual!
Enjoy delicious coffees, teas, smoothies and desserts at reasonable prices!
Open Mic to follow Joshua Gage

michael salinger said...

I hope you're getting a cut on sales Mr. Stanley ;)

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Jim said. It's a gorgeous little book.

Anonymous said...

I haven't finished reading the book, so I will reserve my review for another time and place. For now, I'll just say the "our son in Iraq" selection Mr. Stanley shared is one of my favorite modern haiku anywhere.

J.E. Stanley said...

Greg Schwartz has just posted his review of "breaths" here:

Check it out.

And no, I'm not getting a cut of the sales, although I feel like I should get one after all this. Maybe Gage will buy me a cup of decaf at Insights tomorrow. :)


pottygok said...


Why didn't you say so. I would've bought you some grind at the reading last night! Let me get you something tonight, yeah?

J.E. Stanley said...

Another short review of "breaths," by Gino Peregrini, editor of The Ghazal Page:

Area 17 said...

I believe Joshua's collection is out of print, and the Press is not available

As permission would have been given to The Haiku Foundation for this PDF version, for those of you who may find a pdf useful for private study:

warm regards,


Alan Summers
President, United Haiku and Tanka Society
co-founder, Call of the Page

John B. Burroughs said...

Thank you, Alan! This is the one Gage book I did not have, so I very much appreciate the PDF.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau