In Boysa, the Austrian Dancing Bear, Volume 1, a selection of poetry and prose, author Jo-Anne McGee turns the lens on herself, examining her inner life.
The products of McGee’s introspection range from pieces about rejection and loneliness (“My clown makeup slowly melts into tears salted with sadness making streaks of loneliness on my mask [sic]….”), to disillusionment (“It’s always/ been minds full/ of garbage”), to a reliance on a spiritual relationship with God (“There was one who/I asked to help me./ The Living God.” [sic]).
While McGee clearly experiences the emotional intensity that some poets use to fuel their work (“My Father, my/ anguish is far too great…my torture/ ha! torture”), her writing lacks the follow-through necessary to make it accessible to readers. Much of her work is written in a stream of consciousness so personal that it becomes hard to follow. “On the self/ of legde [sic]/ lies the know/ of course…./ The missing link/ is found/ the dinner dishes clang/ stored up on the shelf.”
McGee’s poems are written in free verse with the occasional employment of rhyme and metaphor. A few of her images are deft (“mending my jeans/ my thoughts/ go in and out/ with the needle”), but, for the most part, her language is abstract (“sorrow time/ whisper time/ crying time” and lacks the precise, apt description required for poetry.
The thoughts in her six prose pieces are disorganized and lack the transitions that would make them easily comprehensible. This is a shame because some of them deal with worthy subjects, such as Greenpeace and casualties of the Viet Nam War.
Overall, this collection requires thorough revision focused on conveying concrete detail and greater coherency. As it stands, Boysna: the Austrian Dancing Bear’s appeal will likely be limited to the author’s friends and family.
Also available as an ebook.