Review of Ted Olson's Breathing in Darkness (Wind Publications, 2007)

Louisville Courier-Journal
Sat Mar 24, 2007

Poet Olson's 'zen-like precision' 
By Frederick Smock

The work of Southern poet Ted Olson tells us that short poems need not be small. His "TVA Blues," for example, is a keen complaint about man's willful derangement of the landscape, in seven short lines: 

The last place 
we made love -- 
on an exposed rock 
in a wild river -- 
is now under water, 
at the bottom of 
this damned lake 

The economy of such a poem seems, in and of itself, an ecological act. 

This new book collects many brief and insightful poems, from one of the art's chief practitioners. Olson is also the editor of CrossRoads: Southern Culture Annual

His eye is drawn to beauty in odd places, as in "At the Old Homesite": 

Having ventured 
up the chimney 
as smoke 
used to do, 
a morning glory 
blooms 
where the roof 
used to be. 

There is a zen-like precision to these poems, and, likewise, a wisdom that sometimes surpasses understanding. Though lean, this is a large book. 

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Frederick Smock is poet-in-residence at Bellarmine University.