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Reviewed by Lorelai Rivers for Readers' Favorite
A Nashville Woman and Other Sorrows: Music City Poems contains a set list of poems that at first are about a woman, but end up being about Nashville itself -- not the glitzy Hollywood version, but the real, soul-crushing toil of the Music City. Not so much dark as filled with melancholy, these poems ring true, as though author Dan Jewel has first-hand experience with the hope and heartbreak of being a working, or non-working, musician/songwriter. Like a country song, each poem tells a story or exposes the inside of a moment in life. This is poetry, but accessible. An excerpt from "The Academic Poet" explains it best:
"But I damn sure won't be using shells of obscurity,
Or rhetorical ambiguity,
Or any other elitist hermetic techniques
To alienate any reader who would pay me the honor
Of reading what I write.
Poetry is a lot less than that,
And much more."
I read these poems straight through like a novel, and then read my favorites again. In just a few lines or a phrase, each entry in A Nashville Woman and Other Sorrows: Music City Poems made me feel a part of the moment and full of yearning. These snippets of life, feelings, moments, scenes, and snapshots read to me like an epic song put together with the best book openings and chapter closings from every great novel never yet written. Dan Jewel's poems are arguably sad, each in some way dealing with being worn down and burned out from striving, never quite fulfilled. But they are also solid and purposeful, with an underlying point that the people who experience burn-out are the ones who were first on fire.