Author: John B. Lee
Title: In This We Hear The Light
ISBN: 978-1-897475-96-6 = 9781897475966
Trade Paperback: 122 pages – 8 X 10 – Hard Cover
Suggested Retail (Paperback): $35.95
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World-class poet, John B. Lee, published with world-class photographer, Richard M. Grove, to produce a world-class hard cover book of splendor called In This We Hear the Light.
In This We Hear the Light, is an exceptional collection of Cuba theme poetry by award winning poet, John B. Lee, – without a doubt some of his most outstanding work, juxtaposed by an equally splendid assembly of Cuba theme photography by Richard M. Grove. The poems and photographs represent the inspiration from many years of travelling in Cuba. Since first traveling to Cuba, John B. Lee came to love the island and to admire her people. In This We Hear the Light, is an ekphrastic project, its literary efforts are beautifully complemented by Grove’s exquisite world-class photographs. The poems and the photographs aspire to capture something more deeply felt than the reflections of a mere tourist. Poetry and photography both hold the deep felt mysteries that come from understanding Cuba on an intimate and cherished level.
I received a copy of In This We Hear The Light, and upon simply opening the package was immediately struck by the incredible beauty of it as purely an unopened book. The covers of this hardcover collection are quite breathtaking at even first glance. On the front cover against the black background sits the title in white above and the collaborators’ names again in white below, and falling between is a very beautiful picture of a cloud covered ‘ocean’ with just minimal and narrow cuts in the clouds – clouds, with the faintest spears of light breaking sporadically through the cracks and stretching down, as if attempting to touch the water beneath. On the back cover, a 20 line excerpt from one of the included poems again in white on black beckons the reader into the book. It is often said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This one you can.
I have long been one to examine the covers of a book before ‘entering’ them, to appreciate the wonder in their design, creation, and reason; the cover to hold in and then clothe the work within. And opening this book to the epigraph as dedication, I was immediately touched by the innocent and honest nakedness in what I was sure would follow. The epigraph, John B. Lee’s reflection on another poet’s poem, consists of Lee’s succinct two line poem titled ‘One Reason I Write Poems’. It reads “Because until now//I have been writing the wrong poem” is a perfect prelude to what will follow. John B. Lee, a much admired long-time poet, in this collection of over two dozen, sometimes longish poems bears something out. It is this – he perhaps ever-searching for those often eluding ‘right poems’, proves he has found them in this.
The poems were written in at least one of a number of journeys he has made to Cuba, with others including Richard M. Grove, the artist collaborator in this book. Lee is an incredible and recognized poet, and in this book offers poignant and image-laden poems to fill it. His respect and admiration of both that country’s landscape and people is obvious in each of his poems. In any of them, he has reached below the surface of a tourist’s eye, and within found both a country’s and each individual’s essence and soul. His poems whisper the deeper truths of the experience of other – of other person and place, the lacings of a poet fully immersed within the blood that flows both inside self and between.
Richard M. Groves’ photographs and artwork in this book are each and all simply brilliant. His lifelong affinity for the camera shines in this collection of nearly four dozen pieces. His photographs of people, place and object are not simply photographs of surface either, but are of the sense of a full and deep connection into. These, not simply photographs of ‘thing’, but are instead pieces of art that reach below it, inside it – and in each, a viewer here in their own now senses not just the story but a wealth of story behind; an opening into both this other’s life and being, and then with it reflections back then into each our own. They fill us. They help fulfill us. They are captivating in the wonder that only a photographer seeing past, seeing through, then seeing back through and within can capture – and then release.
Poet, editor, workshop facilitator