Image Credit: Brooke Lark via Unsplash
“I learned how to say my father’s name from his mother,” the speaker says in Jason Crawford’s new chapbook of poetry, Summertime Fine. “She held the R in the pit of her jaw like a neck bone BeRnard and if that don’t speak love into the frying pan, then I have gone my entire life unfed.”
Summertime Fine contains such raw emotions, juxtaposing nostalgia and joy with a loss of innocence. It feels like there are two halves of this book, which when put together, reveal deeper truths about growing up and community.
In “A Broken Sonnet House Party,” the speaker says, “My grandma taught me the electric slide. My mother showed me how to ballroom. And with both we say congratulations. What sought to kill us has not and will not.” Dance becomes a shared language, one through which heritage and life lessons are communicated.
“But here, we use our knees to name a new moon. Blessed party of gods raining joy. Precious young, our legs hold so much magic,” the speaker says. I love how Crawford takes dances that everyone knows, and then makes them into something magical and healing, which is a common theme throughout Summertime Fine.
Crawford’s searing rhetoric and stunning imagery weave together seamlessly. He’s a virtuoso in poetic craft, able to distill emotions and imbue his work with them. Summertime Fine is one of 2020’s finest books of poetry, and I highly recommend it. This book is available now through Variant Literature.