RANGE OF MOTION is a collection of poetry in various styles, including haiku, limericks, free verse, and longer rhyming poems. Most of them are focused around the countryside and natural beauty, but others address topics ranging from love to science to politics. The poems are followed by two essays, one on the writing of poetry itself and the other musing on the beauty, history, and utility of stone walls found on Lenzi’s land.
Lenzi has a gift for imagery and for capturing a moment in a few words, which explains why some of the best poems in this book are the haiku. “Withered Fruit,” “Dimensions,” “Skinny Moon,” “Delivery,” and “Garden Snake,” to name just a few examples, use a few deft strokes to draw a vivid image before the reader’s mind, shadowed with symbolic meaning and purpose. Some of the longer free verse manages the trick with equal skill – “Sunstroke,” for example, which uses the poet’s affection for dramatic and sensual language to great effect in making the reader actually feel the delirious heat-addled mental state. He has a knack for picking out meaningful details – a blue jay’s personality, the shape of a weathered old stone, or the path of a raindrop.
Sometimes, though, he gets a bit too fond of dramatic language and flowery long words, an issue demonstrated particularly in his essay on poetry itself. The elegance of the words themselves, and of poetic elaborations like alliteration and rhyme, can get in the way of their meaning, and his most effective poems are frequently those where he lets go of the verbiage and just speaks clearly. The poems vary considerably in quality; his limericks are perhaps the least effective, as he tends to use a more serious, didactic tone that does not mesh well with that form. In addition, when he comments on politics, religion, and science, his sheer certainty of his own rightness can come across as self-righteousness, smugness, or even arrogance. For example, his haiku, “Hellion,” on Hurricane Katrina, should not be read by any New Orleans residents who wish to keep their temper.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader