26 September 2023

I Said the Sea Was Folded: Love Poems

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Erik Jensen, Black Inc., $22.99.

These poems were intended first as gifts. They are the story of falling in love with a person who lives outside the gender binary and realising that is not one thing but everything.”

From award-winning writer Erik Jensen comes this tender and involving narrative sequence of short love poems. Written against the complexity of understanding another person, the poems form a fragmentary memoir of hope, disagreement and love.

A disconnected account of life and its complexities, I Said the Sea Was Folded charts the first three years of Jensen’s relationship with his partner, Evelyn Ida Morris. These are love poems, written against the difficulty of understanding another person. They are startling in their simplicity and frankness.

The book is divided into three non-linear chronological segments, starting from the end of a relationship. As pointed out by the author at the outset: “This is a story told backwards, because that’s how we start.”

For Jensen, an award-winning journalist, biographer and screenwriter, these poems announce a new phase in his work. They are surprising in their lucidity and their integrity.

Poetry is a literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. Such is the writing, language and the way it’s expressed by Jensen which is his preoccupation. If a quality of loveliness and intensity of emotion is regarded as being characteristic of poems, then that’s evident.

Words are chosen for their beauty and sound and are carefully arranged, repeatedly in short lines that often may not rhyme. Poetry conjures up emotions because it is a multisensory experience!

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