NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
JASON HEROUX: PEINE SI LES JOURS SONT L
THE DAYS ARE HARDLY HERE AT ALL
Traduit de l'anglais par ric Dejaeger
Revue Microbe
c/o Launoy 4
B-6230 Pont--Celles
Belgique
US$2

JASON HEROUX: LEAVING THE ROAD
Mercutio Press
4474 Hingston Ave
Montreal
QC
H4A 2J9
Canada
$4

JASON HEROUX: RENOVATIONS IN THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS
Mercutio Press
ISBN 978 0 9783632 0 8
$5

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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
JASON HEROUX: PEINE SI LES JOURS SONT L
THE DAYS ARE HARDLY HERE AT ALL

This little chapbook by Jason Heroux, who lives in Canada, is of short poems in English with French translations.

These are short imagistic "songs", some no more than haiku-like perceptions, and there are longer poems which move, often with a poised and delicate melody, to the registration of inconsequence. This stanza is from a poem titled RESTAURANT, 4 A.M.

	I smile at both of them
	just in case
	we all happen to know
	each other.
I can't see this as advancing poetry; in fact, it seems to me old-fashioned.

Where Heroux does gather strength, purpose, and direction is in the prose poems, such as I'M DRINKING COLD COFFEE and LIFE IN A NOVEL, where the patterning and repetitions offer suggestions of a liberated formalism in which through lineation and rhythm he creates aural spaces for image and feeling to interpenetrate. In I'M DRINKING COLD COFFEE insight, feeling and craft are interestingly re-presented through the image of what the persona sees through a window. The combination of intricacy and clarity is exciting, but he needs the space of longer poems.

The poems are uneven, but there's a token of ambition and emotional intensity running ahead of craft to a point where the lines sometimes go flat and prosy in the haste to express clearly and energetically. There are effective poems such as PAGE FROM A DREAMBOOK and POEM that show that the characteristic note of his successful poems is an intriguingly delicate bluntness. In FINAL EXAM, Heroux reveals his innate sense of humour:

	I have a pencil
	that's so old 
	and weak I have
	to hold it with
	both hands to help
	it across the page.
	"Oh God . . . oh God"
	it writes, leaving
	the answers blank.

reviewer: Patricia Prime.
JASON HEROUX: LEAVING THE ROAD

The fourteen items in this well-produced little booklet are called poems in the acknowledgements, but it is difficult to see them as anything but prose, short short stories, miniature narratives, each one sharp, surreal, humorous, humane. They range in length from the thirteen-word A MOMENT'S NOTICE:

	A small dead spider on a gray parking meter with its time expired.
to a 228-word account of a man falling in love with the spilled contents of his brief case. The majority are just one paragraph of about 100 words, and the other subjects include reflections on windows, hibernating smoke, light bulbs going out in a novel, a spoon downing in soup, hell as other people (a new twist to the old idea), eating stones, and surprising appearances by Bach, Mozart and Haydn. The second shortest is THE CHAIR:
	The chair is a saddle, without a horse.  We sit in it when we
	want to go nowhere.  The long and difficult journey nowhere. 
	It's impossible to get there by foot.
Each story is a polished gem, and so it is definitely worth looking out for this booklet, even though it is printed in an edition of only 75. We are told the author is an Ontario civil servant. I'd love to see some of his memos.

reviewer: Andrew Belsey.
JASON HEROUX: RENOVATIONS IN THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS

A strange assortment of out of focus poetry, and there are 17 poems in all, ranging from just a few short lines to something longer: i.e. half a page of block text, double spaced.

The Canadian poet begins as poets are apt to do, with the dawn. It's called appropriately TODAY, it's a dazzling piece of cynical pessimism, and it starts like this:

	Today arrived
	on a trembling crutch
	of birdsong looking 
	for some place to rest.
Proceeds like this:
	It arrived carrying
	the sky under its arm
	like a broken suitcase.
And ends like this:
	Today arrived
	dressed in yesterday's rags
	with the sun barking
	behind it like a dog.
I plodded on through the small collection of 17 poems eager for some respite from the doom and gloom. Finally I arrived at the end of the line, at the title poem. Maybe this was the one to lift my spirits? It turned out not to be.

So is there any value in a booklet of pessimism and negativity or is it simply an outpouring of the poet's angst? In TWO AUTUMN STANZAS there's a verse that sums up the whole effort for me:

	The morning light roams around,
	a hungry dog searching for scraps.
	And birdsongs sound like keys jingling
	on a ring hanging from the prison guard's belt. 
The problem I find with the collection is that there's no balance. There's nothing there to offset the desperation of the thing. No counterbalance. No humour. No moment of relief. Jason Heroux has a way with words, a turn of phrase, a pleasing line, more than a spark of originality, but for me he needs to find something more; perhaps a suitable hook to hang his pessimistic coat from or on. I wish him luck.

reviewer: Gwilym Williams.