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SCATTERED VERTEBRAE by Jerrold Yam reviewed by Kenna O'Rourke • Cleaver Magazine
SCATTERED VERTEBRAE by Jerrold Yam Math Paper Press, 2013 reviewed by Kenna O’Rourke Jerrold Yam’s second poetry collection was titled with care: like the image of scattered vertebrae, these poems are at once beautiful, dark, and disturbing. Yam weaves family life, social expectation, religion, and tragedy together so ornately that at times one does not realize what they’re reading. This technique generally makes for compelling and delicate poetic image, but at times the disorientation feels less deliberate—Yam’s is a poetics that requires rereading, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. It is a poetics of “pleated identity” (31), turning away from singular intent or simple subject matter, and its difficulty reflects the personal sense of unease that Yam confronts throughout: unlike some collections, here one can safely equate the speaker with Yam himself. Yam’s verse is elaborate, complex by nature, for the poet dives into his own conflicted psyche … chop! chop! read more!