Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘Poetic Notions,” Wade Newsom
139 pages, paperback, $15
Wade Newsom’s thrilling spoken word performances have been among the high points of the 5Point Film Festival in recent years. His debut poetry collection, “Poetic Notions,” released in October, gives readers the chance to mull over his well-chosen words on the page and witness the wide breadth of his recent work beyond what they may have seen before.
Two poems that the Carbondale resident has shared in his intense stage shows at the festival — “Participate” and “Passion” — serve as bookends in the collection.
Those two signature works translate well to the page. Both are Whitmanesque yawps, calls for readers to live mindfully and with soul, to “Put the key in the lock of the box / And unlock the notion / That there is more to life than just surviving.” They offer a motivational poetry that manages mostly not to fall into cheesy bumper sticker sloganeering and preachiness — they’re as thoughtful and eloquent as they are raw and from the heart.
Between those two brilliant salvos, the book is a revelation. It unveils Newsom as a poet of diverse interests and deep talent. If in “Participate” and “Passion” he is belting out his words to a cheering crowd, other works give us Newsom whispering to a friend or telling a joke.
“Bruce Lee of Loose Leaf” reads, in full, “I was kidnapped by ninja poets / Who taught me how to work words / Like nunchucks / And slay paper dragons / With liquid swords.”
His poems — written almost entirely without punctuation — range from inspirational barnburners to aphoristic three-liners, from poignant confessional pieces to sharp societal observations. In “Hashtag Youth,” he writes, “I think I’ll write a poem / For the youth of today / I’ll use hashtags / And write it on a backlit screen / I’ll call it ‘Green’ and / They can read it / While they’re out to dinner / With their parent.”
However he wants to do it, we’re lucky to have Newsom on the stage — and now on the page — in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.