Network of Wires, Along the Shore, Bullheads, and Around the Bay By Gary C. Busha. Wolfsong Publications, 2014.
Reviewed by Caleb Beres
To begin, I am not familiar at all with what makes good poetry so I am going to try and base this review off of my knowledge of general creative writing and what I believe makes an entertaining piece of writing.
I began my reading with Network of Wires which has an image of a chain-link fence on the cover. My first impression of the title and cover was that this may be a collection of poetry about being separate or split apart or simply about being in jail. As it turns out I was correct about my first impression in that this collection of poems seems to me to be about being separated. Almost every poem found in the small booklet involves a woman of some sort. Many involve the woman disappearing in some way, the relationship between the woman and the narrator, or the woman’s action and appearance being described by the narrator. The poems give me the feeling that the narrators (which may actually be only one narrator) are going through a grieving process or breaking up process with their wives or girlfriends. As for the writing itself the imagery is good and descriptors are strong along with the strong story telling.
The next booklet I read was Bullheads which has an image of a bullhead fish on the cover. The impression I got from the cover and title was a natural or nature oriented one. Unlike the first booklet I was entirely wrong with this impression. The poems found mainly describe a process of someone’s life fading away or outright death whether it be an old man dying of old age slowly or a taxidermist handling a long dead animal’s corpse. This collection was naturally rather depressing due to its steady topic of death. I’m not sure at all why he Busha picked the title of Bullheads for this topic of his poetry. As for the writing it is very similar to Network of Wires with its good imagery and storytelling.
Along the Shore was the third booklet I read with its cover image of frogs on lillypads in a densely populated pond. My first impression was again of nature orientation and this time I was correct. The poems all describe a rural setting often times with a boy or man performing some sort of activity like manual labor commonly seen in a rural area. Living in a rural area all of my life I enjoyed reading about this, it was relaxing to me as a reader. As for the writing and imagery I believe it is the best of his four booklets that I read. The imagery was especially strong describing every facet of the setting and anything else that was happening.
Finally, I read Around the Bay which has a cover image of a boy fishing in his small boat. Yet again my first impression was of nature orientation and yet again I was correct in the impression. However, this is not just another iteration of Along the Shore. Around the Bay is instead is a single, long poem that describes a few days in the life of a boy living in this rural environment from fishing at night to being bored during the day trying to occupy himself with whatever he can find. I found the story to be just as enjoyable as Along the Shore and imagery just as good.
Overall, these four poetry booklets were enjoyable for me to read as someone who has never read more than five poems in his lifetime. They are entertaining enough to please someone who does not know much of anything about poetry like myself but I cannot speak to what they amount to as poetry like whether word choice was good or whether a certain flow occurs. Another person more aware of good poetry elements will have to pick up where I leave off.