Chapbook Review: Simplified Holy Passage

Simplified Holy Passage
Chapbook, Elizabeth Robinson, above/ground press,, $4

A pleasant continuity inhabits these poems — like a snowball rolling downhill, collecting and growing. Themes and explicit notions resurface frequently, often deliberately, but sometimes surreptitiously.

When you catch those veiled recurrences, it’s like Elizabeth Robinson is giving you a knowing wink — you’re in on her scheme. She even drops in round-about references to her methods: “The question is how one can pick up a process and continue it after / an interruption. If that is even possible.”

Robinson’s tone is reliably confessional and conversational. Most of this reads like a journal — poems are titled “Day 1,” “Day 2,” etc. — though it often comes across as a letter. She’s directly addressing a particular person that she’s imagining reading it.

Structurally, these poems are succinct. They consist of small stanzas that are usually no more than one to three lines. There’s little need for embellishment; Robinson’s phrases read like they have weight behind them — like she’s close to uncovering something profound.

She also possesses some inexplicable means of drawing investment out of a reader. In short order, you begin to care about her experiences. The final poem, “Unnumbered days later,” works like the epilogue of a film, when you’re shown — for your own peace of mind — that after the trials and tribulations, lessons were learned and everything worked out. (Scott Bryson)