I am always looking for something to read while at the family cabin. It is there that I first read and fell in love with books like “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Little Women” and “Watership Down.”
While I usually reach for a novel to join me while lying on the dock or swinging in the hammock, I recently decided to try something new and brought a book of poetry down to the dock. The change of genre was refreshing.
J.R. Lang is a poet based in Red Wing. His book “The Cabin Coffee Clutch” was published this year.
Released by Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc., this book of poems is short -- as is common with most books of poetry -- but it fills the 64 pages with poems, thoughts by Lang and photography.
I am by no means a poetry connoisseur. Usually my poetry consumption is limited to pieces assigned for a class or short pieces that I come across in a magazine. But I enjoyed Lang’s work and its pairing with photography of nature and landscapes.
I was surprised to find that Lang focused on a traditional structure of poems in this book. Many poets today have abandoned rhyming structures such as couplets and ABAB schemes that defined poetry for decades (think Shakespeare and Robert Frost). Lang meanwhile creates pieces that draw upon these classic schemes yet gives many of his pieces a modern twist.
A few pieces in the book follow identifiable schemes but many offer a more free form where rhyming lines vary.
Even while the rhyming structures differ throughout the poems, Lang maintains uniformity in the book by laying out each poem on the page in the same way: centered from top to bottom and side to side with a title atop each piece.
The general theme throughout is finding comfort. Lang writes in a supposition that introduces the book:
“The purpose of my books allows some to realize they are not alone. For others, they become thankful to have escaped such burdens in life. However, none of us can avoid trials and tribulation. It is a part of life. How we deal with it is our only option for change.”
The book can easily be read in one sitting. However, it forces the reader to slow down and consume each word of every poem. For me, that resulted in a feeling of relaxation, which led to a welcomed cat nap on the dock.