As is the case with many poetry collections, it is difficult to say what, exactly, BORN IN RAINDROPS is about. And as is the case with poetry collections in general, answering this question is somewhat beside the point. BORN IN RAINDROPS explores a wide range of themes, some as universal and love, heartache, and loss — others as niche as 1950’s sex symbols, sports, or outdoor recreation. What is important when considering a poetry collection is not necessarily the thematic similarities of its poems, but each poem’s evocative power (or lack thereof). In the case of BORN IN RAINDROPS, evocative power on a poem-by-poem basis is noticeably hit or miss.
Danny Callahan should be commended for taking on a wide range of intimate topics through his poetry. However, his poems do not often rise to the occasion that their subject matter requires. On a line-by-line reading, Callahan’s poetry frequently falls prey to juvenile showing-not-telling, where emotions such as “love,” “panic,” and “feeling at peace,” are quite literally referred to as such, relegating the majority of Callahan’s stanzas to the realm of cliché. In cases where the collection’s poetry does gain some evocative steam, the momentum is quickly squelched by frequent author commentary at the bottom of each page. While sometimes helpful in poetry, in the case of BORN IN RAINDROPS, the author commentary is jarring, juvenile, and detracts from the power of the poems it follows. See the below example following “Fruits She Is”:
“This poem is hard to understand as a whole because every two lines or so I tried to paint pictures. This was a fun poem to write because I enjoyed experimenting with different images.”
Much in the same way Callahan describes his own poem as fun to write, BORN IN RAINDROPS is often fun to read, though perhaps not in the way the author intended.
Hefty and eclectic, BORN IN RAINDROPS is admirable in its scope. Its individual poems, however, frequently fall prey to unimaginative writing, to the point where the collection as a whole risks being worth the read for exactly the wrong reasons.
~Kade Ashmore for IndieReader